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Oracy At St. Anselm's


At St. Anselm's, the development of Oracy within our curriculum is a key driver of change that will improve outcomes for our children.  Our aim in spoken language is to provide a sound foundation for the development of Oracy skills from debate to poetry and verbal feedback to take for presentational purposes.  Our classrooms are rich in talk, from effective questioning to constructive peer discussions and teachers use talk skilfully to develop and encourage critical thinking.  By embedding Oracy throughout the curriculum, children can respond to high expectations and explicit teaching and modelling of speaking and listening.



In Early Years, Communication and language is one of the prime areas as 'Children's language skills are connected to their overall development and can predict their educational success.'  We ensure pupils are involved in hands-on experiences, songs, poems, listening and acting out stories, have access to fiction and non-fiction texts, play, and learn in a language-rich environment, enabling them to learn and explore new words.  Children are then given the opportunity to practice using these new words, which we call STAR words, orally during partner talk, group work and in presentational talk.  This practice continues and develops throughout KS1 and KS2.


Talk is grouped into two types: exploratory talk and presentational talk.  During the exploratory talk, the children discuss concepts, such as Big Questions in Science or an "Odd one Out" where there are multiple ways to answer.  They are also encouraged to guide their learning by asking deeper questions of each other and their teachers.  During the presentational talk, children are expected to use subject-specific vocabulary and, as they progress through the school, learn how to use a range of techniques such as tone of voice, body movement and eye contact to engage an audience.


Last academic year (2023-2024), St Anselm's was working in collaboration with other schools in the Borough of Ealing in Oracy study groups to support each other to further embed high-quality, purposeful talk throughout the curriculum, asking questions to ourselves as practitioners to decide what change we wanted to see in our schools.  At St. Anselm's, our focus questions were "How can teachers ensure that every child has a voice?" and "How can we upskill children to ask questions which deepen their learning and pique their curiosity?"  These questions form the basis of our Oracy action plan as we look to build upon the work we have done so far.  


At St. Anselm's, we have developed the Active Listening Symbols for children to use during class discussion and paired work.  These hand symbols indicate whether a child agrees or disagrees with a statement, would like to build upon a statement by adding to it or respectfully challenge the other person's opinion.  These symbols allow teachers to check understanding and engagement, as well as to encourage a "no hands-up" policy to allow every child to have opportunities to speak in class. 


Within English, the national curriculum for Key Stage One and Key Stage Two states: 'the curriculum reflects the importance of spoken language in pupils' development across the whole curriculum-cognitively, socially and linguistically.  Spoken language underpins the development of reading and writing.'


The aims of the National Curriculum (2014) for Oracy are to:

  • listen and respond appropriately to adults and their peers
  • ask relevant questions to extend their understanding and knowledge
  • use relevant strategies to build their vocabulary
  • articulate and justify answers, arguments and opinions
  • give well-structured descriptions, explanations and narratives for different purposes, including for expressing feelings
  • maintain attention and participate actively in collaborative conversations, staying on topic and intimating and responding to comments
  • use spoken language to develop understanding through speculating, hypothesising, imagining and exploring ideas
  • speak audibly and fluently with an increasing command of Standard English
  • participate in discussions, presentations, performances, role play, improvisations and debates
  • gain, maintain and monitor the interest of the listener(s)
  • consider and evaluate different viewpoints, attending to and building on the contributions of others.
  • select and use appropriate registers for effective communication



Our Oracy Curriculum with enable pupils to:

  • Confidently and respectfully articulate their ideas and opinions
  • Respect the contribution of others with a diverse range of linguistic abilities
  • Speak with clarity and eloquence
  • Recognise the importance of listening when responding to others
  • Become critical thinkers
  • Justify ideas with reasons
  • Ask questions to check to understand, deepen their knowledge and instil a love of learning
  • Develop a rich vocabulary, using a range of subject-specific language to speak like an expert.
  • Present to a range of different purpose and audience





 Oracy Framework

 The Oracy Framework outlines the various skills that our children need to develop in order to deal with a range

  of different talk situations.  This framework has been developed by Voice 21.


  We use a student-friendly version of the framework, within all phase groups, so that children gain a clear

  understanding of all the strands.  There is a clear progression as previous skills are built upon, learning more

  ambitious objectives and increasingly complex vocabulary.


 We teach Oracy Skills in many different ways at school so that children develop a deeper understanding through:

  • Paired talk
  • Group discussion
  • Debating
  • Drama
  • Presentations.

 Teachers plan lessons with oracy in mind and are structured so that all children are supported in developing

 their oracy skills in a range of ways, for example, through using sentence stems to scaffold talk and using talk

 tactics to discuss differing viewpoints.



What is Oracy?
This short video, made by Voice 21, explains what oracy is. Click on the image below to view this video.