Oracy at Pinner Wood
At Pinner Wood, we want all of our children to have a voice. We recognise the extreme importance of developing communication skills right from the moment they join the school. This is why we have begun an Oracy project. Oracy is a vital part of our ‘heads, hearts and hands’ model of learning that develops each child to be life-long learners and successful communicators.
Oracy is integral to School Improvement Plan and the project began in September 2020.
What is Oracy?
‘Oracy is the ability to articulate ideas, develop understanding and engage with others through spoken language – learning to talk and through talk.’ (Voice21).
We are teaching our children to be confident, articulate speakers and effective listeners; these two skills are fundamental to all we do now and in the children’s lives when they leave Pinner Wood.
Why has this approach to teaching and learning been chosen?
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 also in readiness for later 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 can express themselves clearly and are able to 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 are 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.
How do we encourage purposeful talk in the classroom and around the school?
- Discussion Guidelines: These are agreed with the class. Here are some examples from Reception, Year 2 and Year 6 where you can see the progression in expectation
- Talk Tactics: Children are taught to use these sentence stems when having a discussion.
- Showstoppers: Some end of term projects are oracy based. This could be a debate, presentation, speech, guided tour or drama outcome. These are usually shared via SeeSaw.
- Talk is made visual: We sometimes use string, talk tokens or building blocks to make talk visual and help children reflect and analyse talk.
- Group work: Some tasks in lessons across the curriculum are group tasks with an agreed outcome. For example drama or role play or solving a maths challenge.
- Talking partners and other groupings: Sometimes children talk in pairs, trios or other kinds of groups to discuss a question, make predictions or solve a challenge for example.
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.
- 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.
- Consider the impact of their words on others when giving feedback.
- Share their learning in an engaging, informative way through formal presentations
This framework outlines the key skills described above.
Promoting oracy at home
Try some of these techniques to help your child become a more confident communicator, in school and at home.
- Oracy homework: Complete the weekly oracy homework task set on SeeSaw.
- Read aloud to your child: ‘Reading aloud to your child, well beyond the age they can read for themselves, combines the benefits of talking, listening and storytelling within one activity that helps children build their vocabulary, learn to express their thoughts, and understand the structure of language,’ National Literacy Trust
- Record a video diary; Many children aspire to being vloggers or YouTube stars, so encourage them to start a video diary, either to chart their everyday life or to record special occasions like birthdays and holidays. Please remember our guidelines about online safety and keep these within the family rather than broadcasting them online.
- Play word games: Games like 20 Questions, Articulate, Guess Who? and I Spy are great for helping children use descriptive language and think critically about what they’re saying.
- Talk about their day: Ask your child, ‘What did you do today?’ and they’ll often claim they can’t remember, so find different ways to talk about what they’ve been up to. Eating your evening meal as a family is a good way to encourage conversation, while older kids are often more chatty in the car, where they feel less like they’re being interrogated.
- Phone a friend (or relative): Persuade your child to take a break from text and WhatsApp and develop their speaking skills by making an actual phone call. ‘Encouraging them to speak to different family members on the phone or on a video call will build confidence,’ National Literacy Trust
- Go on a nature/listening walk: This is a great pre-phonics activity for young children, who can be encouraged to listen carefully to the sounds they hear – from traffic to birdsong – and describe them. They can also describe the natural sights they see, such as trees, animals and birds and the sky.
- Sign them up for a club: Joining extracurricular clubs is a good opportunity for your child to talk with different people outside the home or school environment. Many of them also involve taking instructions (such as being coached in sporting techniques or to complete science or art projects), and introduce them to different vocabulary relating to their new hobby.