Oracy Curriculum

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Oracy at Plymouth Grove Primary School

Our Oracy Leader is Miss Thompson.

Article 29 of the UNCRC: a child or young person's education should help their mind, body and talents be the best they can

Global Goal 4: Quality Education


Intent - oracy as a driver of change 

At Plymouth Grove, 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 talk for presentational purposes. At the heart of good oracy is a dialogic classroom. Our classrooms are rich in talk, from effective questioning to constructive peer discussions and teachers use talk skillfully to develop and encourage critical thinking. There is a clear understanding in school of how talk aids teaching, analysis and higher order metacognition. Oracy is viewed as a driver of change and we believe that it is imperative for literacy to function as a tripartite structure of oracy, reading and writing. 

The ability to speak eloquently, articulate ideas and thoughts, collaborate with peers and have the confidence to express your views (Article 12) are all vital life skills that support success in learning and life in general.

Inclusion is at the heart of our oracy intention and all children are given the support and opportunities they need to thrive in this subject. DebateMate and The English Speaking Board syllabus give our children opportunities to use their voice beyond the school walls e.g. Speaker of the Year Awards, debating final in the Oxford Union etc. On the other hand, the Welcomm programme gives children the support they need if they are struggling to find their voice e.g. diagnosed SCLN, lack of confidence, INA. 

By embedding oracy in all aspects of the school’s culture and weaving it through the curriculum with our verbal feedback policy, children are able to respond to high expectations and explicit teaching and modelling of speaking and listening. Classrooms buzz with the sounds of purposeful talk, from confident speeches in KS2 to children learning how to turn take in EYFS.

While research has found that strong oracy skills leads to higher order thinking and deeper understanding, on average a child in a deprived area has limited opportunities to take part in vocabulary rich discussions. We, at Plymouth Grove, recognise how vital spoken language skills are for children and we want to equip them with the tools they need to be heard, not just in school, but in their future career and life. 

Our oracy curriculum will enable children to:

  • speak with confidence, clarity and eloquence;

  • recognise the importance of listening in conjunction with speaking,

  • be confident in the value of their own opinions and to be able to express and justify them to others;

  • adapt their use of language for a range of different purposes and audiences,

  • sustain a logical argument, question, reason and respond to others appropriately;

  • concentrate, interpret and respond appropriately to a wide range of immersive experiences;

  • be open-minded, to respect the contribution of others and to take account of their views;

  • celebrate the diversity of languages, dialects and accents in the school and appreciate the experience and value the contributions of children with a wide variety of linguistic abilities;

  • share their learning in an engaging, informative way through presentations, recitals, drama, poetry and debate.


Implementation - cultivate and nurture the voices of Plymouth Grove

Our school curriculum is rich in oracy opportunities:

  • Maths - Over the last year, our maths lead has introduced maths journals and through these, children are able to engage in whole class discussions and exploratory group talk.

  • Writing - Our feedback policy has oracy at the core and the ‘live’ marking process allows children to discuss their writing openly with their teacher and peers. They can then act immediately on advice given and this cultivates a sense of collaboration and shared purpose. 

  • Reading - Blank Questioning is used in Guided Reading and children are encouraged to discuss the purpose of questions e.g. Level 1 (naming), Level 2 (describing), Level 3 (summarising) and Level 4 (justifying). Welcomm also encourages children to engage in cumulative talk around comprehension before attempting written answers. 

  • Humanities - All knowledge organisers across the school contain discussion points. For example, Year 1 use Blank Questioning to help the children understand the build-up of difficulty in questions related to their topic. Furthermore, Talk homework is also used in relation to knowledge organisers.

  • Computing - Across the school, children are given opportunities in Computing to present what they have learnt in computing. For example, presenting Google slides to coding robots. 

  • Music - Children actively feedback to each other on group performances. 

  • PE - Children actively engage with peer feedback and are encouraged to discuss teamwork. Instructional talk is used confidently by children. 

  • Science - Scientific literacy is being developed through immersive experiences like the Y5 zoo. Concept cartoons are used to stimulate discussion and children are continually encouraged to question their own predictions and results of experiments.

  • RE - RE topics are split into big questions which immediately spark discussion in classrooms. Key vocab is used and re-visited throughout topics. 

  • Pupil voice - At Plymouth Grove, we have a weekly PG Parliament meeting and a team of RRS ambassadors (Y1-Y6). Subject leaders, SLT and other members of the school community regularly attend meetings to listen, respect and act upon the views of the children.

  • Extra-curricular - Oracy is also embedded in our after school clubs. For example, Forest Schools is led through exploratory talk, Discovery Club is rich in collaborative discussions and Lego club use presentational skills in both the weekly sessions and competitions. 55 of our children also attend the weekly DebateMate sessions (Y4, Y5 and Y6). a further 12 children attend DebateMate Accelerate. This programme is an early behavioural intervention scheme aimed at students at risk of exclusion, SEN students who would benefit from communication development or students who need support speaking up in class. 

In EYFS, Communication and Language is a key area in the Early Learning goals. EYFS have big books which they add to as their topic progresses. At the start of the topic, the children are inspired to begin to predict and discuss items from a talking tub.  The children love to present, discuss and reflect upon their learning within the big books and talking tubs. EYFS also use Welcomm as a daily intervention with rolling groups across nursery and reception. 

Teachers across the school have received training in: Wellcomm, Elklan, Blank Questioning, Black Sheep resources and the S+L First Response Pack. At the start of our oracy journey, we also collaboratively explored the four strands of oracy: linguistic, physical, cognitive and social and emotional strand.

Teachers are invited to drop in on a Monday assembly time to review resources e.g. Black Sheep and address any gaps in the planning for intervention groups etc. This is also a time to review Wellcomm assessments with both the oracy lead and the school’s speech and language therapist. 

In Teacher Journal Clubs, year groups have focussed and continue to research on questioning, dialogic teaching and vocabulary building as part of their ongoing CPD. 


Impact - the magic of oracy

The impact oracy has on our children is clear to see. Our children are confident speakers and they embrace opportunities to speak whether it be in the classroom, in assembly, in front of a panel of governors or in front of parents. The proof of the oracy learning that has taken place is heard in the voices of the children that we teach. It will be heard when listening to them recite a poem, watching them turn-take in a group discussion, felt through the profound questions they ask and the attentiveness with which they listen. 

Summatively assessing oracy is a challenge that has been recognised nationally. At Plymouth Grove, the Fischer Family Trust curriculum tracker is used to record the progress that pupils are making in terms of richer knowledge, greater retention of subject-specific vocabulary and being able to independently speak more eloquently and confidently at the end of each academic year. This will record whether the children are working towards the age related expectation, at the age related expectation or exceeding the age related expectation. 

These judgements will be quality assured by subject leaders using first-hand evidence of how pupils are doing, drawing together evidence from formative methods like: pupil interviews, observations of tasks, reading tasks, work scrutinies and discussions with pupils about what they have absorbed and retained from the content they have studied. Short stake quizzing will also be used and quizzes based on knowledge organisers. These judgements will inform the curriculum and whether children are ready for the next stage of their education.

In regards to further summative assessments, we also use the English Speaking Board Qualification in upper KS2. The assessments are verified and recognised by OFQUAL. Our children are given the opportunity to take part in Speaking Level 1 and Debate Level 1 and Level 2. The children have access to the grading criteria from the first session of the syllabus and they are graded from pass, merit, merit+ to distinction.

Furthermore, our children also take part in DebateMate. DebateMate is a national competition and the children start off competing at a local level up to regional and then to the national finals. Our children have been highly successful on this programme and they have been crowned national champions for 5 years in a row. The impact of this is that Plymouth Grove is now recognised nationally for the art of debate and we have been selected for case studies and promotional material by DebateMate and other companies. 

Our Welcomm programme (used from EYFS through to the Y6) also uses a baseline assessment and end of year assessment for those children who need an extra boost and support with spoken language. Teachers baseline the children in the autumn and use the results to form the ‘Language Hunters’ Booster Group. The baseline assessments also show the immediate gaps in the children’s knowledge e.g. sequencing, vocabulary etc.

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