Oracy in Action

09 January 2018


To meet the demands of the new GCSEs and curriculum changes, staff at Whalley Range have been teaching students three oracy strategies or ‘talk protocols’ to encourage them to develop their oral communication in both formal and informal situations.

Research shows that when students talk together, they become better at reasoning themselves. For the sake of social equality, schools must not only teach children the spoken language skills that they need for education but equip them for a whole range of ‘talk’ and ‘think’ situations beyond the classroom. For Whalley Range, it was the Science faculty who led the way, trialing three talk protocols with students which would allow them to develop their language and communication skills in an exploratory manner. Following their lead, and with inspiration from Voice 21, we decided to roll these three talk protocols whole school.

We started the autumn term with a whole school twilight, and shared our 3 chosen talk protocols with staff; ‘Talk it Out’, ‘Think and Ink’ and ‘Say it Again’. Examples of best practice were also shared with a range of innovative and creative ways in which oracy could be embedded whole school.

  1. Say it Again focuses on the idea of correcting, developing and expanding students’ language. It can be used in any of these ways, during most points of the lesson. It does not necessarily require prior planning and can be used organically in discussion
  2. Think and Ink allows students important thinking time before they then vocalise their ideas. A strategy for both encouraging visible listening and prompting independent thought before discussion
  3. Talk it Out is a strategy for paired, small group or whole-class discussion that places the emphasis on achieving an outcome or decision. This can be teacher led and focus on developing discussion. Say it Again can be used as part of this, to aid development of more sustained turns

At the end of term one, and after glowing student voice feedback, it was clear that oracy has been a regular focus in lessons. Students highlighted how oracy was useful in both helping them articulate what they were thinking and in supporting retention and memorisation. In our last strategy meeting staff shared a range of fantastic examples of how oracy was being embedded within their faculties, from practical based subjects like PE to talking through problem solving in maths. Our new focus on oracy across the whole school is gaining momentum… watch this space for updates!

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