Oracy and mask wearing

Secondary school students will now be expected to wear face masks in across the school. We have written some guidance on oracy and mask-wearing to support teachers in secondary schools.

Masks could seem an obvious barrier to classroom talk, however, with clear expectations and explicit guidance, it is still possible for students to engage in purposeful oracy tasks which support learning. If masks are now being worn in your school it’s worth considering how this will impact students’ speaking and listening. With clear expectations and explicit guidance, it is still possible for students to engage in purposeful oracy tasks which support learning. 

  1. Acknowledge the difficulties of communicating whilst wearing a mask. Talk explicitly to students about why it’s difficult to communicate effectively whilst wearing a mask. What frustrations have they experienced and which aspects of mask wearing do they find particularly difficult?
  2. Use as an opportunity to raise students’ awareness of the particular difficulties faced by those with hearing loss or other communication difficulties. Discuss how these difficulties could be mitigated, by reducing background noise or using other methods of communication, for example. If any of your students are affected by hearing loss, consider wearing a clear mask so that they can continue to lip read.
  3. Give students explicit guidance on how to communicate effectively whilst wearing a mask. You could use this as an opportunity to reinforce students’ knowledge and understanding of the Oracy Framework. Which strands will they need to think about most in order to speak and listen effectively when mask wearing? You could role play effective or ineffective speaking and listening when in a mask and use this as a basis to create a modified set of discussion guidelines. Alternatively, use this poster we have created which sets out top tips for oracy whilst wearing a mask

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