Last Updated: Wednesday, November 03, 2021

Storytelling through photography

What is this?

​This practice exemplar shows Dalmarnock primary school and Glasgow Clyde College engaged parents and children in a creative literacy project. In storytelling through photography, the media of language and photography were used to engage families in core literacy learning alongside the practical skill of using a camera.​

Who is this for?

​This exemplar will be useful to practitioners who are already or are planning to develop family learning programmes with ESOL parents. It can also be used to develop literacy programmes with adults in the community.

​​The dual medium allows the course to work from early years to adults balancing narrative with photographic content.​

How to use this exemplar to improve practice?

Card showing photo of dragonThe exemplar along with the reflective questions can be used by practitioners to consider their own approach to involving and engaging parents and families whose first language is not English, in a creative literacy project.

Reflective questions:

  • How do you identify and address any barriers to participation?
  • How well do you seek out and respond positively to potential partnerships which will lead to better outcomes for the children and young people you work with?
  • How effectively do you support parents and families to participate in, contribute to and understand their child’s learning?
  • How effectively are you promoting and celebrating the first language of parents and their children?
  • How do you support learners to decide on the focus of the project and take ownership for the artistic and literary direction?
  • How do you assess the participants’ literacy levels to develop a programme?
  • How do you ensure you have the appropriate teaching in place to deliver photographic storyboards and narrative content?
  • What evidence do we have that family learning is improving the life chances of the children and families involved?
  • Are outcomes for children and families improving as a result of their participation in family learning? How do we know?


PDF file: Student Evaluation Form (299 KB)

PDF file: Tutor Evaluation Form (26 KB)

PDF file: Group Learning and Support Plan (770 KB)

PDF file: Student Impact Statement (158 KB)

Explore this exemplar

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What was done?

Photo of illustrated map of Glasgow showing landmarksPictures were taken of interesting local landmarks and, alongside their children, parents wrote an imaginative tale of a dragon’s adventure through their local area. This story was translated into mandarin by the families, supporting the effort to make these children bilingual. In addition to the legacy booklet, which was professionally printed, the group held a successful photographic exhibition inviting community people and supporters from across education.


For many parents working with their children on creative literacy can be a daunting prospect. They often struggle to know how to create a story, where to begin, how to end it, how to make it an interesting experience for their children and ultimately for the reader. This can also be the case when adults want to use language to tell a story, whether this is a piece of fiction or a fact or issue based story. Not having English as a first language can compound this difficulty. Using the idiom that a picture is worth a thousand words, Glasgow Clyde College combined these two mediums of writing and photography to help adults to tell stories. This was quickly linked to the fact that these two activities would work very well in family learning approach to allow both adult and child to collaborate as equal partners in the project.

What was the impact?

At the start of the course the tutor will take the learners through a Group Learning and Support Plan which will enable a collective look at what they hope to gain from the course and what learning style will best suit them during the course. A plan is developed and agreed upon. This Plan is revisited halfway through the course and any amendments made to the learning programme. It is looked at again at the end of the programme and learners are given the opportunity to provide impact statements on their learning. In addition an impact sheet is held by the tutor to record any impact statements made during the course. Finally both the learner and the tutor complete and evaluation sheet on the course. These documents are pulled together to enable an overview on the teaching and learning and impact made on each individual course and each individual learner.

The school has seen the following improvement and impacts:

  • increased literacy in both adults and young people
  • adults and child have learned together as equal partners
  • increased parental confidence to participate in the wider life of the school
  • Increased parental engagement with families who would not normally participate
  • parents are now going out with their children independently of the school to take photographs
  • the first language of the child and parent is recognised, developed and maintained.