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Oracy is the ability to articulate ideas, develop understanding and engage with others through spoken language. In school, oracy is a vital tool for learning; by teaching students to become more effective speakers and listeners we empower them to better understand themselves, each other and the world around them.
At Valley Invicta Primary School at Leybourne Chase, we believe spoken language to be essential in the development and achievement of our children across the curriculum. We strive to develop spoken language skills through the taught curriculum, the hidden curriculum, playtimes and lunchtimes, extra-curricular activities and the whole ethos of the school. Children are taught how to be effective communicators through oracy projects that feature skills such as storytelling, debating and presenting. Good oracy skills support wider literacy skills; improvement in oracy is also linked to improvements in reading, writing, and overall attainment.
Respectful and productive relationships between all who form part of the school community are crucial aspects of our oracy ethos. We place a high priority on supporting the development of good speaking and listening skills amongst our pupils. Correct spoken language and development of vocabulary is fundamental to learning. Speaking and listening play a large part in a child’s progress in all curriculum areas and teachers plan to develop these skills in a wide variety of ways. We aim to develop and encourage fluent speakers, with rich vocabulary, who are confident to operate in a wide range of situations.
Speaking and listening are fundamental to the teaching of English and permeates the whole curriculum – cognitively, socially and linguistically. We want our children to develop effective communication skills for the here and now and in readiness for later life. Having recently invested in Oracy training with Voice 21 (a national charity that exists to enable teachers and schools to provide a high-quality oracy education so that all young people can find their voice for success in school and life) we are committed to building and embedding a culture of oracy throughout our curriculum.
We will ensure that teachers and senior leaders are equipped with the skills to develop oracy for teaching and learning, to plan for talk across the curriculum and to elevate speaking beyond the classroom. By building a culture of oracy within our school, we want to develop our children’s confidence, spoken language and written outcomes across and beyond the curriculum.
Our aim is to enable the children to improve their levels of oracy so that they are express themselves clearly and can communicate effectively and confidently in front of any type of audience. These skills are being encouraged in every area of our curriculum as good oracy skills can enhance every type of learning including maths and science. A key part of oracy is for children to think carefully about the language they’re using, and tailor it to their subject, purpose and audience.
So much in life depends on being a good communicator, so it’s vital that children learn the importance of oracy from a young age. Children who start school with limited communication skills are six times less likely than their peers to reach the expected standards in English at the end of Year 6. We are aware of children’s different starting points therefore developing oracy skills is crucial in improving our children’s life chances.
We also recognise that children who communicate well are more likely to form good relationships with other children and adults, therefore it is important that our children are able to listen to others and respond appropriately. Purposeful talk is used to drive forward learning, through talk in the classroom, which has been planned, designed, modelled, scaffolded and structured to enable all learners to develop the skills needed to talk effectively.
At Valley Invicta Primary School at Leybourne Chase we have adopted the Voice 21 framework for oracy which breaks down the teaching of speaking and listening into four strands:
- Social and Emotional.
We promote classrooms rich in talk, in which questions are planned, peer conversations are modelled and scaffolded, and the teacher uses talk skilfully to develop thinking. From EYFS to Year 6, children are given opportunities to develop oracy skills and build their confidence in talk for formal and informal situations, both in and outside the classroom.
We have an embedded oracy curriculum ensuring the children have an opportunity to practice a variety of types of talk and practise the skills needed for different oracy outcomes:
- exploratory talk;
- debate and persuasion;
- building understanding;
- to inform/teach;
- entertainment and expression.
The deliberate, explicit and systematic teaching of oracy across the school and throughout the curriculum will support our children to make progress in the four strands of oracy. Our children will have opportunities to be a ‘Tiny Teacher’ Deepening and embedding subject knowledge, understanding and reasoning.
A range of purposeful opportunities are used to encourage learning through talk and learning to talk, including:
- Setting ground rules for speaking and listening in class, such as putting your hand up before speaking, waiting to be chosen, and not interrupting each othe;
- Presentations on a specified subject, or a subject of their own choosing. These could be individual presentations or in pairs or small groups, in front of their class or the whole school;
- Discussions as a pair, small group or whole class, for example about religious beliefs, story plots, or predicting the outcomes of experiments;
- Hot seating: a drama technique where one child sits in the ‘hot seat,’ and the other children ask them questions to answer in character;
- Exploring a text through performance – not just re-enacting what happens in the book, but also acting out what characters might do or say in a particular situation;
- Giving oral book reviews to the rest of the class, and then taking questions;
- Debates, with one group of pupils for and another against a certain topic or question, such as, ‘Is it right to bully a bully?’
- Putting on assemblies e.g., Harvest, attended by the rest of the school and often parents;
- Rights respecting steering group meetings, where members collect questions and concerns from other pupils and present them to their fellow cmembers and teachers;
- Group work, where communication and listening to each other are essential;
- Role play, where children pretend to be someone else or pretend to be in a specific situation that they are not actually in at the time.
Oracy skills will be assessed using the oracy framework.
Through the teaching of oracy, children will be able to:
- Speak fluently, with confidence and clarity in front of an audience including talking in full sentences;
- Explore ideas through talk;
- Deliberately select gestures that support the delivery of ideas e.g. gesturing towards someone if referencing their idea;
- Recognise the value of listening to what others say;
- Use conjunctions to organise and sequence their ideas;
- Adapt how they speak in different situations according to the audience, including using Standard English;
- Value their own opinions and be able to express them to others;
- Begin to reflect on their oracy skills and identify areas of strength and areas to improve;
- Ask questions to find out more about a subject;
- Respond appropriately to what others say, challenge each other’s opinions and develop their own reasoned arguments;
- Be open-minded, value the contribution of others and take account of their views;
- Appreciate the diversity of languages, dialects and accents in the school;
- Consider the impact of their words on others when giving feedback;
- Share their learning in an engaging, informative way through formal presentations.