At the beginning of the spring term I was asked to run what was originally described as an “English conversational group” for our EAL children who were already speaking English but needed a little more.
After careful consideration, a group of sixteen children were chosen to have a weekly session of approximately forty minutes aimed at developing their speaking skills.
Having thought about the aim of the sessions and original name of the initiative we immediately went about thinking of a more child friendly name. Within a few minutes the children had come up with the title of “chatty group!” This name is now known and recognised in school and when we meet each other in the corridors it’s a “Hi Miss” and the action of using our hands to make the symbol of talking.
After explaining to the children that chatty group was their group and as such they should have a say in what we do, we went about discussing activities they could do throughout the term and ways they thought we could help develop their confidence and speaking skills.
We established our chatty group rules of listening and respecting each other’s contribution and went onto plan some exciting sessions including art and craft work, baking, planting in the school’s bio dome and team games. At the beginning of every session we share our news of the week, often ranging from the excitement of having spoken to a relative left behind in their country of birth to the continuing story of a child’s father trying to make the journey from Yemen to Liverpool. Other children in the group would ask for news of the child’s father and whether he had arrived yet.
It was as a result of something that one of the chatty group said after a piece of art work on their journey to Liverpool that lead us to discuss what they really felt like when they had to leave their country of birth.
We decided that the best way to capture the often raw emotion being spoken about was to complete group poems about their journey to Liverpool and Phoenix. This turned out to be one of the most emotional and at the same time eye-opening things I have ever been involved in.
Chatty group continues to contribute to all aspects of life at Phoenix, whether it’s writing a questionnaire to use with their peers on healthier school rewards or performing an assembly for the school and parents on what they have achieved and how their confidence has grown.
Staff have made extremely positive comments on the way the children have changed. “More willing to speak in class,” “They’re speaking more,” “I didn’t know about that, they never told me.” are just a few of the comments made by staff. Chatty group is building bridges!
Chatty group goes from strength to strength with our motto of “We’re all connected!”