Hazelbury Primary School - Voice 21

 Richard Sangotade, Year 5 teacher and Oracy Lead describes how oracy matters at  Hazelbury Primary school.

Based in Edmonton, North London, this five-form entry school has a high EAL population, with approximately 70% of its students speaking English as an additional language. The school began its journey with Voice 21 three years ago. Yet, due to Covid-19, there has been some disruption to its oracy provision. As things have started to return to normal, however, Hazelbury has set about embedding oracy throughout its wide and balanced curriculum. Richard describes oracy as “one of our main drivers at the moment” and the school has a new Oracy Champion joining him this year. He stated that “everyone’s really going for it”.

When asked about Hazelbury’s motivations for becoming a Voice 21 Oracy School, Richard told us his school wanted to:

“Raise the expectations for oracy and speaking and listening within classrooms and also across the curriculum and build an oracy culture throughout the school…we will do this by giving children opportunities to express themselves in a range of different contexts to support children to become model citizens of the future”

Richard went on to tell us about the Talking Tuesdays resources that he produces each week to promote oracy at Hazelbury. Each Tuesday students are given a 15-to-20-minute slot in which a topical event, inside or outside of school, is explored:

“So, for example, last week’s Talking Tuesday question was about the panic buying and what’s been happening with the petrol shortage … I differentiate the questions for each year group to help them access the discussion question. At the beginning of the slides, I’ll record my voice over a well-known song like a game show host. Which goes like this” And welcome to Talking Tuesdays with your host, Richard”. This really engages all children within the classroom and gets them excited about the discussion we are about to have. I then begin to talk through the different talk tactics and discussion guidelines to remind the children to use them while they are having their discussions. I then say “So let’s take a look at our Talking Tuesday Question” which all the children around the school say to me when they see me, which is really amazing to hear….I try and keep each week’s discussion question current and relatable for the children at Hazelbury.”

Reflecting on these resources, Richard stated that the sentence stems and discussion guidelines included within the Talking Tuesdays resources have helped students “take ownership in the way they are speaking and expressing themselves” during exploratory talk. Richard has differentiated talk tactics with different year groups to ensure that Talking Tuesday resources are accessible for all children. He notes that EAL students have particularly benefitted from Voice 21 resources:

 “Just today there was one student within my class that finds it difficult to articulate himself. He really tried hard to use the sentence stems and express his opinion when having our discussion. This was really great to see”

Richard has seen his Talking Tuesdays resources in action in both Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2. With this in mind, we asked him what makes a successful Talking Tuesdays resource. He listed the following key ingredients:

  1. Set high expectations for talk by making the resource look attractive with eye-catching pictures and visuals.
  2. Make the Talk Tactics visible to students.
  3. Differentiate the questioning to ensure students of all ages and abilities can engage with the content.
  4. Highlight keywords that students may not understand.
  5. Remind students of the discussion guidelines, and to make good use of their Talk Tactic maps.

When asked what it has been like to work with Voice 21, Richard had the following to say:

“If you want Oracy to be at the heart of your school, then definitely join Voice 21. The resources are fantastic and the support is always there when you need it. You will see the impact it has in your classroom, school and the wider community.”

Richard noted how valuable the support of Oracy consultant Dan Ford has been on his Voice 21 journey: “Dan’s really supportive all the time, if I ever need him, just email him, and he’ll direct me where I need to go.”  We asked Richard in what ways working with Voice 21 is similar or different to other CPD or school change programmes he’d been involved with in the past. He had the following to say:

“Oracy is a main priority at Hazelbury Primary School. Throughout the year, I will be delivering CPD every half term to ensure that all staff are confident at teaching and planning oracy throughout our wide and balanced curriculum … The resources are so, so good on the Voice 21 exchange. It’s amazing to have so many ideas we can implement within our school. So yes, it’s been brilliant.”

 The students at Hazelbury are equally enthusiastic about oracy and the impact it has had on their learning. One student remarked:

“My Oracy skills have really improved and I have become more confident at speaking and listening. We learn different talk tactics and signs to help us communicate and make our conversations more interesting.”

Hazelbury Primary School has plenty of plans to continue to provide opportunities for students to use their voice and receive a high-quality oracy education. Introducing a subject-based discussion question called “can we just talk?”, linking questions to the different strands of the oracy framework, reopening the school’s podcast, and investigating presentational talk are all on the horizon at Hazelbury Primary School. There is a lot of oracy to look forward to.

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