The national curriculum for English 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 quality and variety of language that pupils hear and speak are vital for developing their vocabulary and grammar and their understanding for reading and writing. Teachers should therefore ensure the continual development of pupils’ confidence and competence in spoken language and listening skills. Pupils should develop a capacity to explain their understanding of books and other reading, and to prepare their ideas before they write. They must be assisted in making their thinking clear to themselves as well as to others and teachers should ensure that pupils build secure foundations by using discussion to probe and remedy their misconceptions. Pupils should also be taught to understand and use the conventions for discussion and debate.
All pupils should be enabled to participate in and gain knowledge, skills and understanding associated with the artistic practice of drama. Pupils should be able to adopt, create and sustain a range of roles, responding appropriately to others in role. They should have opportunities to improvise, devise and script drama for one another and a range of audiences, as well as to rehearse, refine, share and respond thoughtfully to drama and theatre performances.
Statutory requirements which underpin all aspects of spoken language across the six years of primary education form part of the national curriculum. These are reflected and contextualised within the reading and writing domains which follow.
Pupils should be taught 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 initiating 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.
Talk and oracy at St. Sebastian’s
From 2019, at St. Sebastian’s we are having a high focus on high quality talk (‘oracy’). We will be supporting our students to expand their vocabulary, speak audibly, challenge their peers respectfully, and be thoughtful listeners. We believe these communication skills are essential for learning; they also help children to build positive relationships.
Whole school opportunities for talk
Tuesdays at St. Sebastian’s are now Talking Tuesdays! At the beginning of learning time, we play talk games such as Would You Rather and Good Idea/Bad Idea to practise talk techniques.
In October 2019 it’s our first St. Sebastian’s Talk Week – a chance to focus on our new whole-school Talk Pledges and Pupil Talk Prompts.
Pupil Talk Pledge
We developed a new Pupil Talk Pledge with help from our School Council. It will be displayed around the school and will help us both inside and outside of lessons:
- Listen carefully to each other.
- Speak loudly enough so everyone can hear.
- Everyone needs to participate.
- Don't be afraid to ask questions if you are unsure of something.
- Connect your ideas to others – explain, add to, respectfully disagree.
- Give everybody thinking time.
This pledge was agreed by the School Council in June 2019.
Pupil Talk Prompts
At St. Sebastian’s we now use special talk prompt cards to help pupils practice phrases such as, “I am wondering if…”, “I disagree because…”, “In conclusion…”. Pupils will be able to refer to the cards during class, group and pair discussion time.
As well as helping them speak more confidently, these Talk Prompts improve children’s writing because they have the chance to try using the phrases out loud before they put pen to paper.
Four members of staff have formed a Talk Team to make all this a reality, and we are working with local trainer Topsy Page (www.topsypage.com).