Unique versions of some of the oldest stories in Europe have been retold for modern classrooms and released for free by the Cambridge Schools Classics Project.

Using classical tales is a great way to engage, inspire and motivate young people across the full ability range,

Will Griffiths, Director of the Cambridge Schools Classics Project

Two of Britain’s leading storytellers, Daniel Morden and Hugh Lupton, have retold Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey, and Ovid’s Metamorphoses, for a modern audience.   The new recordings have been piloted in primary and secondary schools across the full ability range, and are now being made available for all teachers to use.

Although they are between two and three thousand years old, the stories are still embedded in everyday language and popular culture. People who don’t know the original tales may still speak of a “Trojan Horse,” boast of a “Midas Touch” or worry about an “Achilles Heel.”

Available from www.classictales.co.uk, Daniel and Hugh’s high-quality recordings are accompanied by teachers’ notes and additional resources, planned by experienced teachers and tested in both KS2 and KS3 classrooms.

The website provides a complete resource for teachers who would like to use classical tales in teaching, and for teachers who are looking for examples of seminal world literature. The pilot phase found the stories to be particularly helpful for teaching reading, writing, speaking and listening skills.

The new recordings are unique because Daniel and Hugh work in the original, oral tradition of storytelling. Their stories are told from memory, not read from a script. Working in the oral tradition preserves the power and excitement of the original tales, and brings the clarity and simplicity necessary to make the stories accessible to modern children.

The Iliad, Odyssey and Metamorphoses were chosen for the project because, although they are thousands of years old, they are still exciting stories which engage and interest children.  The resources also encourage discussion of challenging contemporary questions, such as, “is there a proper way to fight a war?”

“Humans have always used stories to help think about experience, to entertain groups and to educate children,” said Will Griffiths, Director of the Cambridge Schools Classics Project. “These stories aim to achieve all these and more.”

“Our research shows that using classical tales is a great way to engage, inspire and motivate young people across the full ability range,” explains Will.

“We hope that KS2 and 3 teachers will find these new recordings a valuable resource in their classrooms, especially in light of curriculum changes and requirements to teach seminal world literature – what could be more seminal than stories told before the dawn of the written word?”

Dale McCarthy and Gracie Miller are both English Teachers at Nower Hill High School, a multi-cultural, non-selective academy in Greater London.

They have been teaching War with Troy and Return From Troy with 300 year 7 students for the last four years and have had very positive responses to the audio teaching materials.

Reflecting on the value of using recorded tellings of classic tales in the classroom, Gracie said "We think it's really worthwhile because they move from really brilliant listening skills into really brilliant writing skills".

"There are four key areas where it has really helped in our school: the first of which is that it motivates very disengaged boys,” Dale added.

"It provides really good access for dyslexic children and children with other learning difficulties," said Gracie, “and the engaging stories provide stimuli and models for brilliant creative writing."

"It develops opportunities to develop key listening skills", added Dale.


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