What is Oracy?
Oracy in schools refers to the development and cultivation of effective spoken communication skills amongst students. It encompasses the ability to articulate thoughts, ideas, and opinions with clarity, confidence, and coherence. Oracy is not only about spoken language proficiency but also about fostering active listening, critical thinking, and meaningful dialogue within the classroom. Recognising the significance of oral communication in academic and social contexts, we are embracing oracy as an essential component of the curriculum. This approach aims to empower students to express themselves articulately, engage in constructive discussions, and enhance their overall communication competence. Through various activities, such as debates, presentations, and group discussions, educators seek to nurture students' oral skills, enabling them to navigate the complexities of communication in both academic and real-world settings.
The Four Strands of Oracy
The four strands are:
- Physical and Vocal Strand:
- Focusses on the physical aspects of communication, including body language, gestures, and facial expressions.
Emphasises the development of a varied and expressive vocal range, including tone, pitch, and pace.
Encourages awareness and intentional use of non-verbal elements to enhance communication.
- Cognitive Strand:
- Centres the development of cognitive skills related to communication, such as critical thinking, reasoning, and problem-solving.
Encourages students to organise their thoughts coherently, express ideas logically, and engage in meaningful discussions.
Promotes active listening and the ability to comprehend and respond thoughtfully to others.
- Linguistic Strand:
- Fcuses on the development of language skills, including vocabulary, syntax, and word choice.
Encourages the use of a diverse and appropriate range of words in different contexts.
Emphasises contextual understanding of language and effective verbal expression.
- Social and Emotional Strand:
- Addresses the interpersonal and emotional aspects of communication.
Encourages students to develop empathy, understand different perspectives, and engage in respectful and inclusive communication.
Emphasises the building of confidence, self-awareness, and the ability to navigate social interactions effectively.
These four strands provide a comprehensive framework for oracy education, aiming to develop students' communication skills in a holistic manner. By addressing physical, cognitive, linguistic, and social-emotional aspects, educators seek to equip students with the tools necessary for effective spoken communication in various contexts.
This academic year at Ferndale we continue to dedicate ourselves to providing children with an extensive oracy education. We have seen the need for enhanced language provision in our school and understand that spoken language supports children’s learning and social and emotional development. We strive to embed oracy in everything we do and make it a focal point of our curriculum. We aim to facilitate opportunities and environments that help children to feel confident to communicate, debate and question the world around them. We want them to feel empowered regardless of their background, and to know when it is valuable to listen and share their views and have confidence in the fact that they have a voice and ideas that are important and appreciated. As a school we are committed to providing children with key life skills and giving them experiences to remember and we believe that oracy is crucial to promoting this vision. We understand that children’s mental health is something to be considered in everything we do and giving children a voice and the vocabulary to share their feelings is fundamental to creating happy and resilient children.
Last year we started to learn about oracy strategies, and we explored how we want this to look in our school context. This year, we are making oracy a golden thread that runs through our other subject areas so that oracy can be rooted within our curriculum to ensure it creates opportunities for all children to learn in a high quality, language rich environment. Professionals are going to ensure that skills are taught explicitly, and systematic and oracy opportunities are planned into lessons with a wide range of planned questions and purposeful talking activities. Children are encouraged to learn to talk and learn through talk. These activities will be differentiated, scaffolded and well planned, so that all children can access discussions and develop their reasoning and critical thinking skills across all areas of learning. We are going to build an infrastructure so that oracy is at the heart our curriculum and embedded in our learning culture, making this transparent by writing a oracy policy to show the clear vision for oracy in our school context.
We will have a school community and curriculum that is underpinned by the importance of oracy skills on children’s overall success. We will have children that are able to listen effectively, communicate fluently and effectively, use spoken language and wider communication skills to learn higher order thinking skills and talk to express their individual and valuable ideas.
Here are some key components to learning:
- Vocabulary Development: Emphasis on expanding students' vocabulary to enhance their ability to express ideas clearly and precisely.
Listening Skills: Activities designed to improve active listening, comprehension, and the ability to respond thoughtfully to others.
Speaking and Presentation Skills: Structured lessons to teach effective speaking techniques, including tone, pitch, pace, and body language. Students may be encouraged to deliver presentations, participate in debates, and engage in public speaking.
Discussion and Dialogue: Opportunities for students to engage in meaningful discussions, both one-on-one and in groups, fostering critical thinking, and the ability to articulate thoughts coherently.
Role-Play and Drama: Incorporation of role-playing activities and drama exercises to enhance communication skills and build confidence in expressing oneself in different contexts.
Debating: Formal debating exercises that encourage students to research, formulate arguments, and present their ideas persuasively.
Feedback and Reflection: Provision for constructive feedback on students' spoken communication, along with opportunities for self-reflection to encourage continuous improvement.
Integration Across Subjects: Infusion of oracy skills within various subjects, ensuring that students can effectively communicate in diverse academic contexts.