International Oracy Leaders Case Study - Goulburn Public School

Voice 21 spoke with Jenni Copland and Jane Leten from Goulburn South Public School about her experience on the International Oracy Leaders Programme.

About the school 

Goulburn South Public School in New South Wales, Australia, is a fairly small school (enrolment of 160) with approximately 15% of their students speaking English as an additional language and 21 students who identify as Aboriginal. The school has 6 mainstream classes and 3 support classes for
students with moderate to high learning and support needs. They decided to make oracy a priority when they realised that the lack of students’ confidence in oral language may be impacting the rest of their academic achievements.


Students at Goulburn South Public School are confident speakers who believe that they have something of value to say and deserve to be listened to.

Speaking to Jenni and Jane, it was clear just how much of an impact the International Oracy Leaders Programme has had an impact. Before the programme, oral communication was definitely an issue with students regularly being frustrated, anxious or disengaged during speaking and listening activities including discussions, often giving one word answers with limited vocabulary. However, after explicitly teaching the skills from the Oracy Framework and implementing some other Voice 21 strategies, they have noticed a big change in their students, without even visitors praising them for their outstanding oracy skills. ”Our children are much more confident. I think every kid in the school believes that they are a speaker, they believe that they have something of value to say and that they’re going to be listened to, and they listen to others. There’s been a dramatic shift in the mindset, I think.”

The data from external assessments has also improved, with a big difference in vocabulary, maths and reading, “So we track our data as well, we’ve got a digital platform that we use, and we decided we would track every student for speaking, listening and for interacting, and all the indicators that go with those, and we’ve been able to measure amazing increases. So we can see this evidence of continual improvement, which we credit to doing the training. We believe that the work in oracy has elevated reading and numeracy outcomes as well. We can’t think of anything else that we’ve really done differently.”

Goulburn South Public School has also created a video for their community, with teachers and students talking about oracy, “They were making comments like ‘I’m a better leader because I am a better speaker, I’m a better listener, I can resolve conflicts with my friends’. You know, it was really quite amazing.” Students now also feel confident enough to take part in activities such as debating competitions and regular oracy assemblies.


Jenni and Jane started implementing ideas from the programme almost immediately, first presenting the key concepts to staff before looking at resources and engaging the teachers in the same activities they had done during the training.So we looked at all those key elements, the guidelines, Discussion Guidelines, and the groupings. We put the teachers into the groups, and we made them do the fed-in-fact activities and treated them like a class, just to show them the possibilities.” They then created the vision statement for their school, getting everyone’s opinions on it in order to create a sense of ownership and secure staff buy-in. 

After getting the staff on board, they introduced Discussion Guidelines to the students, co-creating them together in each class with other teachers going on a ‘classroom walkthrough’ to see how others had done it. This was furthered by introducing other elements such as vocabulary strategies and performance poetry in staff meetings before drip feeding them into classrooms. 

“The staff would go away at the end of one week, and have some vocab activities to try, and then come back the next week, share a little bit about what they tried, how it went, and then we’d move on to the next part. Then we would buddy them up with a teacher who had good practice, and had developed a really great routine with the vocabulary and the teacher would go into their classroom and observe the teacher demonstrating a lesson before debriefing. Then the teacher would then go back into her classroom and put it into place. Teacher experts are the way to go. I think that you get that ripple effect. We’ve got a real core of strong teachers around oracy, really committed and excited and very strong.”

They go on to say that each of the teachers were expected to have an oracy goal in their professional development plan as well as it featuring heavily in the school’s improvement plan and curriculum. “One of the major things we did in the spirals of inquiry groups was each group wrote oracy into our existing units of work and into existing scope and sequence documents. So now there are explicitly planned rich, oracy tasks that are going to give students a chance to show what they know, embedded into their normal units of work, just bringing in the oracy focus, as well. We’re proud of that.”

How IOL supported the school’s oracy implementation

Jenni and Jane mention how many of the resources from the International Oracy programme they find useful in their school, including the Oracy Framework “Seeing the Oracy Framework was a real aha moment for me; realising it can be formalised, it can be assessed, it can be planned explicitly for and children can actually access that and understand where they’re setting goals and what they’re heading for. It just underpins everything and formalises it”. They go on to say how using the Oracy Framework has enhanced their annual speech making competition, with the students using it to know what skills to use and why.

They also mention how helpful our student and teacher Talk Tactics have been, “So we had like the whole school focusing on one of the top Talk Tactics, we’d spent two weeks on that then move to the next talk tactic and power on that one. So they’re just become part of what everybody does, kids and teachers alike.” 

Advice for other schools

When asked what advice they would give to other schools considering doing the International Oracy Leaders programme, Jenni and Jane had the following to say:Don’t be afraid and to do it would be my tip, just embrace it and try everything. Iit has a massive impact on staff, and your community and your students. The changes that it makes in your school are immeasurable because yes, you get all the data and all the impact on their learning but it’s also socially impactful too”.

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