Best Practice

Oracy – teaching your pupils to talk

Schools can make great strides in tackling underachievement by improving pupils’ spoken language skills across the curriculum. Jean Gross, the former government Communication Champion for children, reports on some of the great practice she has seen

The new national curriculum proposals highlight the importance of focusing on spoken language, the Ofsted framework now includes pupils’ communication skills in key judgements, and the teacher professional standards demand that all teachers are able to promote “articulacy”. I am delighted – the message about the central importance of communication skills has got through at last.

Weaker communication skills predict poor life chances. Vocabulary at age five, for example, is one of the strongest predictors of how many GCSEs a child will get at 16. Weaker communication skills are also closely linked to social disadvantage; children from less well-off homes start school on average 16 months behind their better-off peers in their language.

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