International Oracy Leaders Case Study - Korowal School

Voice 21 spoke with Louise Dunsgate from Korowal school about her experience on the International Oracy Leaders Programme.

“We couldn’t have done it without the Voice 21 resources and the readings that you have backed that up beautifully. The evidence that you have in the data that you’ve already collected, it just stands out as the teachers are really willing to come on board, because it’s clear that this has been carefully researched.”
About the school 

Korowal School in New South Wales is a small independent school in the Blue Mountains, just west of Sydney, that serves students from Kindergarten through Year 12. 


Students at Korowal school are confident speakers, and enjoy their oracy-rich curriculum.

Speaking to Louise Dunsgate, it is clear that bringing oracy into Korowal School has had a profound impact on the school. Children are able to voice their opinions and hold a discussion, and have reported that they feel confident using their voices, that their opinions are valued, and that they enjoy having oracy in their classrooms. We had four or five new staff this year who said, ‘I’ve never been in a school where the children are so able to voice their opinions and listen and hold a discussion.’, they can’t believe that these kids can converse in such a mature way, and hold discussions where they’re actually listening”. 

Teachers have also noticed that new students who do not have experience in an oracy-rich learning environment acclimatise quickly, and that they soon feel comfortable speaking in class regularly, “I watch children enjoy it and come and say to us, ‘I really love this class, because I get everyone gets to have a voice. I get to be heard.’ And that’s something we hear quite a bit.”

As well as oracy targeted lessons, they have introduced other interactive oracy experiences such as a World Cafe where students sit at different tables, having a variety of discussions where they share their ideas and write them down.


Korowal started by creating a professional learning group of teachers who spent time out of class to learn more about oracy, using their expertise to then mentor the other teachers in the school using informal lesson observations to help with this. Louise herself spends 2 days out of class dedicated to working in classrooms on oracy with the rest of the staff. This combined with the fact that oracy is Korowal’s only form of professional development has meant that the vast majority of teachers feel incredibly confident teaching oracy skills.

In terms of the curriculum, Korowal school has implemented oracy in their progression maps, and have created an oracy development plan for each year group as well as a 3 years plan for the future. They now even report on oracy skills to parents as part of their written report.

How IOL supported the school’s oracy implementation

Louise told us how she found the resources from each session extremely useful, “There was one about cell structure and membranes that was tremendous. I took that straight back. The following week, I introduced it to all the primary teachers at a staff meeting and they just loved it. There was another video we saw with children describing weather which we also took straight back. The resources were so pertinent to us and so easy to use.

The spacing of the sessions was great, because we had plenty of time to do homework, which was very enjoyable to do. It wasn’t like it was arduous and we weren’t rushing to do it just before the session because it was really interesting to go back and do the tasks at school and see what the outcomes were.”

She also mentions how having access to the Voice 21 Exchange, our online platform, helped further their practice even more; finding the courses interesting and easy to follow.That was really very easy to manoeuvre around and get the information from stacks of good resources”.

Furthermore, Louise comments that the networking element of the programme was particularly useful, allowing them to meet other schools in Australia who are focusing on developing their oracy practice, It was great and affirming to meet so many people who were also on an oracy journey, and hear of what they were doing, because it’s really quite lonely.”

Advice for other schools

When asked what advice she would give to other schools considering doing the International Oracy Leaders programme, Louise had the following tips:

  • Certainly do all of the stages of the course. Do the tasks beforehand, like you’re asked to, because it’s such good prep for the session.”
  • “Know it’s not going to be a six month quick fix, give it about three years of really honing practice.”
  • “Getting buy-in from the teachers is important, we were very cautious about not overloading them. What we said was, we know that most of you are doing 70 or 80% of this already. What won our staff over was the amount of resources we could show them that were available from Voice 21. That really helped, because they could see that it had been done before.”

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