Blackpool CoE Primary School & Westcliff Primary Academy

Our Oracy Pioneer’s Posts share insights from our Participants on our Oracy Pioneer’s Programmes.

Below, Lauren Crichard, Teacher at Blackpool Church of England Primary School, and Sophie Warren, Teacher at Westcliff Primary Academy, both schools in the First Federation Trust, share their insights on how they’ve begun introducing oracy in their own classrooms.

Why did you join the Oracy Pioneers Programme?

Lauren: I joined the Oracy Pioneer Programme for two reasons. One was due to the needs of the whole federation and how we can improve oracy across the trust. The second reason was more of a personal reason. Growing up I was very lucky as I took part in amateur dramatics which I believe gave me confidence and the skills needed for public speaking. I understand how important it is for children to have the tools needed to express themselves.

Sophie: For the last two years, I have been focusing on promoting reading for pleasure within my classroom and constantly found that vocabulary was a barrier. So at the end of the last academic year, I trialled a vocabulary board which has been incredibly beneficial for both the children’s writing and their reading as they’ve developed confidence to ask what a word means. This was one step to improving vocabulary and spoken language but I knew I needed to keep working on it so when Lauren told me about the Oracy Pioneer Programme, I thought it was a great opportunity to improve vocabulary and talk from a different angle.

Describe your school: What are the main challenges facing you, your colleagues and students?

One of the main challenges for us is trying to address the needs of all the schools in the Federation. We have been asked to deliver training for not only our schools, but the 14 schools across the whole trust, which are all different sizes with different catchments and different needs. In many of our schools, the children have a limited vocabulary and this in itself is a challenge that we are currently working on but one we hope will be easier through the use of the resources that the Oracy training has provided us with.

Another challenge will be ensuring all teachers and senior leadership know and understand the importance of Oracy for our children and ensuring the time is given in each class to embed Oracy across the curriculum.

How have you begun implementing change in your teaching/school?

Lauren: I have already stared to implement change in our federation by delivering a 1 hour workshop to all the EYFS teachers on the importance of oracy and language development in the early years. I have also approached my Head of Teaching and Learning about how I would like to trial oracy teaching in my whole unit. First of all I plan on creating discussion guidelines for each class. Then I plan on teaching oracy to all three class for 20 minutes a week after completing a base line assessment where I will video the children and use the Harkness discussion as well as using the formative assessment that Voice 21 supply.

Sophie: I have also started to promote oracy within my classroom by using the games discussed during the training. At first, I found the children responding in just a few words but definitely not full sentences. Now, having played the games several times I am beginning to find more children offering responses in full sentences. I have also enjoyed the 1-20 game – a game I thought would be easy but definitely was not! Instead, it has led to great discussions about body language and how important it is when having a conversation. We will continue to play and hopefully we’ll get to 20 soon! I will also be creating discussion guidelines for my class and using the Harkness model to see who and how often children are participating in discussions.

What have been your key learning points this year? What would you change or continue into the next half term?

Sophie: Our first day of training was just before half-term so at the moment we haven’t come across any significant barriers or challenges within the activities. This half-term, I will continue to use verbal games as starters and will start using different methods of pair talking such as trios, traverse and the onion.

At the end of Autumn 1, I recorded a few children talking about their pets and at the end of Autumn 2 I plan on recording them again discussing the same topic. I am hoping to see progress in fluency and coherence.

What are you planning for the rest of the year?

For the rest of the year, we plan to deliver more training across the federation. We have been asked to deliver a day’s training for the student teachers who are part of the teaching school in the federation. In the next few weeks, we will both be delivering a workshop to the staff in our respective schools to provide them with the resources they will need to embark on their own oracy journey. And of course, we will be focusing on making our classrooms rich in vocabulary and talk!

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