Kathryn Carr, Year 6 teacher and literacy lead. and Jeremy Pentreath, one of the school’s Headteachers, shares some background as to why they began working with Voice 21 and some of the impact that they have seen.

The Oaks Primary School, in Ipswich, has worked with Voice 21 over the past two years through an area-wide project led by Voice 21. They have also participated in our flagship oracy leaders programme.  

Where did you start?

“I personally feel that we had hit a bit of a glass ceiling in terms of standards. We were very pleased with the progress we made in terms of teaching and learning in the classrooms but we did feel that there was something needed that was a little bit extra.

Something that has come through very clearly, in working with Voice 21, is that oracy isn’t just learning to talk it’s about learning through talk as well. I’ve always been very keen to develop pupils’ ability to talk in public places. We’ve always encouraged them to perform publicly, but to really refine the learning in the classroom that they were having day and  day out is a real focus for us.”

What impact have you seen?

 “The fact that students are able to reason in maths now. We were seeing very early on, that children in our baseline group, our small group of children that we assessed at the beginning of the project, suddenly we were seeing improvements in their maths reasoning skills. We were thinking we know that we’re going to see great outcomes in terms of speaking up in assemblies and the summer play and the poetry out loud competition that we have every year, but to actually see some things in terms of tangible outcomes in mathematics, particularly in reasoning which is an area that has traditionally been a challenge for us, has been very exciting and we’ve now seen those improvements in other areas of the curriculum as well. So long term, I’m confident that this area of the curriculum is going to take us, in other areas from strength to strength.”

What does it look like in your classroom?

“It’s really made us focus on the purpose of the talk, so when we’re planning, when is a really good time in a lesson for a purposeful talk that will move their learning forwards? We’ve looked at the scaffolds that we’ve got for our talk, and that’s really really crucial, the sentence stems and structures and the key vocabulary has been really important for us as a school and, I think, it’s really had an impact on our children and the ability to articulate what they’re thinking”.

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