We've launched our Oracy Benchmarks

October 2019


Voice 21 started delivering oracy programmes in 2016 and since then we have worked with thousands of teachers and hundreds of schools, supporting them to develop oracy both at a classroom and wholeschool level. From large urban secondaries to small rural primaries, from Plymouth to Dundee, no two schools have been the same. Uniting these teachers and schools, however, is the belief that their students need, and are entitled to, an education in oracy.

Oracy is complex, too often both everywhere and nowhere within a school. With scant coverage in the national curriculum, a lack of focus on oracy in teacher development and without national standards or qualifications to work towards, it is often overlooked. With an increasing recognition of its importance, teachers and school leaders we have worked with have sought to understand how they can best enable every child to benefit from an oracy education. What does excellent classroom practice look like? What is the role of a school leader? How do we know if oracy is making a difference? It was this need to clarify, distil and share what makes a high quality oracy education that prompted the development of the Oracy Benchmarks.

The Benchmarks show what teachers and school leaders must do: teaching oracy explicitly and nurturing it continually, weaving it into their curriculum and all aspects of school life to ensure its efficacy and status. They reflect the ambitions and actions of educators who understand that oracy is not a programme to be completed one year and gone the next, or an extracurricular endeavour for a select few, but rather an essential facet of an effective, empowering and expansive education.

As with many important things in education, there is no one single ‘right’ way to provide a high quality oracy education. Recognising the diversity and complexity of schools and classrooms across the UK, we have sought to create benchmarks that schools and teachers can meet in a myriad ways, consistent with their different approaches. Through identifying and exemplifying the active ingredients that make a high quality oracy education, we hope to both motivate and guide educators towards ensuring oracy becomes a typical part of every student’s education. As more teachers and schools take up this challenge, we hope that the Oracy Benchmarks will be built upon, refined and developed further. Whether just starting out, or already on your oracy journey, we invite you to join this conversation.

Let’s get talking in class!

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