Bolton School has spoken of the success of a new initiative called The Oracy Project, which aims to ensure that oracy attains the same status as numeracy and literacy in the classroom.
Junior girls (aged 7–11 years) at the independent school have been developing their communication skills through the project for the last 18 months, even during lockdowns.
The importance of these skills was brought to the school’s attention by girls’ division junior school deputy head, Helen Holt, who had attended an oracy leaders programme.
She delivered her findings to staff through INSET days, and now teachers use the Oracy Framework, developed by Voice 21 and the University of Cambridge, in their lessons.
In each subject, teachers prioritise the development of key skills such as social and emotional capabilities – including working collaboratively, speaking confidently and being aware of an audience – and physical skills – including using the voice and body language to convey meaning.
On our return to school, oracy skills promoting interaction between pupils have been vital to the reintegration of girls into school life – Carol Laverick, Bolton School
Headteacher of Bolton School girls’ division junior school, Carol Laverick, said: “When Covid struck, the importance of oracy was paramount; technology and oracy stood out as vital skills to prioritise in lockdown. Effective communication was at the core of remote learning as oracy became further entrenched in online lessons to build pupil engagement, resilience and positivity.
“During INSET sessions, which punctuated our academic year, we reflected on progress and shared ideas as to how to focus oracy across whole learning sequences. On our return to school, oracy skills promoting interaction between pupils have been vital to the reintegration of girls into school life.”
Laverick said they created a “culture of talk” in every subject and iPads, which they already used, helped to further enhance oracy skills.
“Acknowledging that in typical lessons the teacher does much of the talking, we created a culture of talk across every subject and an environment in which pupils could clearly express their thoughts and effectively communicate their ideas,” said Laverick.
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