Speaking and listening has always been an important part of our curriculum, but in recent years we have placed a greater emphasis on oracy at Park Primary School. Development in oracy is key to progression and learning in school but it is bigger than this; communicating effectively lies at the heart of social mobility and is critical in building effective relationships throughout our lives. Children at Park have plentiful opportunities to practise and develop their oracy skills in order to become clear, articulate, and thoughtful speakers in a range of different situations. Recent research has highlighted that children need to be taught the key oracy skills and those pupils who are, perform better in all areas of the curriculum and later in life. The four main strands of oracy are the physical, the linguistic, the cognitive and finally the social and emotional aspects – and we try our best to provide multiple opportunities to develop these. These areas include the effective use of the voice and body language; using appropriate language and vocabulary; including relevant and engaging content; showing audience awareness and developing rapport with their audience.
At Park, children are able to develop their oracy skills through carefully planned opportunities for talk, in a receptive learning environment which enables children to have their voice heard and feel valued. Oracy is at the heart of all teaching and learning at Park, but it is also explicitly taught through drama, Philosophy for Children (P4C), Thinking Through Texts and in planned vocabulary activities in English and topic sessions. Beyond this, technical terminology is explicitly taught in maths, computing and science so that children are supported in using these accurately and effectively across the curriculum, deepening their understanding of these subject areas.
Of course, listening and responding is an essential part of oracy and this is a key message we try instil in our pupils: we believe that it is essential that we ‘enter into each conversation assuming we have something new to learn’. As such, in recent years we have developed a system across the school whereby children are actively listening to the speaker in the classroom and they are encouraged to respond with purpose by gesturing that they ‘agree with’, ‘build on’ or ‘challenge’ what they have just heard. The language which accompanies these responses are developed and broadened and ultimately shape how children communicate and transact with others in their current and future lives.