Our new school improvement offer - What does a high quality oracy education look like?

Voice 21 exists to enable every child, regardless of background, to find their voice for success in school and in life. We work to achieve this by building the capacity of schools serving economically disadvantaged students to empower them to provide their students with a high quality oracy education.


Children’s spoken language skills are one of the strongest predictors of their future life chances, yet too many economically disadvantaged children arrive at school with poor communication skills, already behind their more advantaged peers. Left unaddressed, this gap grows rather than diminishes.

Teaching oracy can change this, and in addressing educational disadvantage, we’re working to improve social mobility and student employability in the UK. That’s why we deliver our school-improvement programme to promote the impact of oracy on student outcomes and build a movement for change. 

We work in partnership with schools to build their teachers’ understanding, confidence, and expertise in oracy, making sustainable changes to curriculum, pedagogy, and practice every day and improving outcomes for every child. Schools on our school improvement offer are our Voice 21 Oracy Schools.

In 2019, we published the ‘Oracy Benchmarks’ outlining the active ingredients of a high-quality oracy education both at a classroom and whole-school level. Our three-stage school improvement model blends 1:1 consultancy with high-quality professional development and online learning to empower leaders to transform practice across their school in order to meet both the teacher and school benchmarks, embedding long term organisational change which has real impact on students. 

Stages 1, 2 and 3 unwrapped

Over the years we have seen the huge impact individual teachers can have on their students’ oracy skills and so at ‘Stage 1’ of our membership, we work with schools to empower all their teachers to meet the Oracy Teacher Benchmarks. 

At ‘Stage 2’ we work to anchor these changes to practice in the infrastructure of the school, focusing on meeting the Oracy School Benchmarks, and embedding oracy in the culture, curriculum and core approaches of the school. 

Finally, at ‘Stage 3’ we support schools to further improve and sustain this good practice, developing their own innovative approaches to oracy education and ensuring that changes made are sustained and long lasting.

1:1 support

A dedicated Voice 21 Consultant works in partnership with a nominated school lead across the school year. The consultant supports them to develop and implement a strategic plan to improve oracy provision across the school, ensuring that there are clear aims for oracy across the school which guide decision-making, allocation of resources and planning. 

We have learned that the role of passionate, motivated individuals in changing practice and culture across as school can not be overstated. Our consultants are there to develop the knowledge and expertise of individuals to ensure they have the tools, resources and motivation to spread good practice across the school.

Voice 21 Exchange

Voice 21 Oracy Schools also have access to our online community, the Voice 21 Exchange, which brings together Voice 21 Oracy Schools from across the country and provides them with a space to network and share ideas, as well as the opportunity to attend our programme of regular online events. Hosted on the Exchange there is also a suite of online learning modules on specific areas of oracy, such as ‘Teaching Oracy in the EYFS’ or ‘Improving Vocabulary through Oracy’ to support the further development of oracy in specific areas of the school.

This year we have welcomed our first ever cohort of Voice 21 Oracy Schools and we look forward to welcoming even more from January.

If you know a school that might be interested in joining our national network of Voice 21 Oracy Schools, you can find our more here.




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© 2022 Voice 21. Voice 21 is a registered charity in England and Wales. Charity number 1152672 | Company no. 08165798