“Oracy enables all students to fulfil their potential. Oracy increases confidence and wellbeing.”
What do we teach? Why do we teach it?
Our aim is to make sure that all children develop the communication skills they will need to succeed in life. In school, they will be able to use talk to share ideas, problem solve, debate with each other and improve their storytelling.
We also aim for our children to grow into confident speakers, both in formal and informal settings. This should improve their self-belief and social skills.
Oracy starts with our babies and toddlers, who learn the Makaton signals to communicate non-verbally. These communication skills develop throughout Early Years when we introduce speaking and listening skills. From year 1 to year 6, the children start to build the range of words they use in their communication. They will also improve their understanding of how and when to use a formal or informal tone.
Speaking and listening skills are an essential part of every subject. All children should be actively engaging in learning and developing their vocabulary in all subject areas. Our Oracy lead works closely with all subject leaders to make sure it is part of every area of the curriculum.
How do we teach and assess oracy and how does this look in practice?
There are four focus areas in the Oracy Framework:
- Cognitive (thinking)
- Social and Emotional
These areas are assessed across the curriculum and in everyday teaching and learning, through observations. The staff receive training on why and how we can ensure that the children are developing these communication skills.
Weekly assemblies in class give the children an opportunity to improve their Oracy debate and discussion skills, with a picture prompt from recent news. The children are provided with sentence starters (sentence stems) to help them structure their arguments in a clear and respectful way.
The children in all classes from EYFS to year 6 use actions to signal their responses to each other during class discussion. Each signal has its own role in showing how they wish to respond and match different sentence starters.
The children develop their understanding of how and when to use a formal voice when presenting half-termly homework projects to their classmates. They are supported to deliver their presentations with clear guidance from their teachers. Feedback is immediate and children are given praise for specific aspects of their oral presentation and next steps.
Our classrooms are diverse, language-rich environments, which support all our learners to improve their vocabulary. The children are exposed to subject-specific language that links to the curriculum. They are encouraged to use this language both in school and at home.
Key vocabulary will be sent home to support parents and carers to speak to their child about the specific content they are learning about in school.
Developing these strong communication skills in our children will help them to become ambitious leaders, resilient problem solvers and have self-belief as they move onto secondary school and life beyond school education.
Here is what our children have to say:
“We need these skills so we can explain how we feel. You can also use them to challenge others, to show you have a different opinion.”
Sabit-Cemil, Year 5
“These skills help me to be respectful to others and to show empathy.”
Anwar, Year 4
“The oracy actions help us to know if others agree or disagree, and if someone doesn’t know what you mean, you can clarify.”
Preston, Year 1
“I like the discussion rules because you know that others are listening to you when you are speaking. It is important to listen because it can help you to learn.”
Ivan, Year 2
“In the future, if I had an interview for a job, I would feel more confident in speaking. The oracy skills I’ve learnt will help me to explain myself clearly.”
Grace, Year 5
By teaching our children to become more effective speakers and listeners, we empower them to better understand themselves, each other and the world around them.