What is the Oracy Network?

Quite simply, we are a group of schools, educational organisations, other bodies and individuals, all sharing a belief that we should be doing much more to develop young people’s speaking and listening skills. For various reasons, these skills are often not given the same attention by schools as reading and writing. We believe this is a problem. Spoken communication skills are central not only to employability but also to well-being and academic achievement.

We exist because we believe that the best way to overcome this problem is through collaboration, support and sharing. This website is here to provide a space to allow this to happen.

Who's behind it?

The Oracy Network is overseen by the English-Speaking Union and Voice 21, two organisations committed to the development of oracy skills, as well as raising awareness of their importance.

The network has already gained some high profile supporters including, among many others, Dame Alison Peacock, Chief Executive of the newly formed National College of Teaching, and leading academics from Cambridge University.

The need is critical. Despite a wealth of evidence from educators, academics, economists and employers as to the importance of oracy, it currently has meagre status within our education system. We aim to change this.

Have a look around: Here you will find: news about oracy-related events, resources you can access and download, research reports, blogs, information about services and training related to oracy skills, and much more.

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Core Beliefs

The development of speaking and listening or oracy skills should be a priority for educational institutions.

We believe that an explicit and structured focus on the fostering of effective oracy skills in schools, can have a positive impact on students’:

  • social mobility
  • employability
  • academic achievement
  • happiness and well-being
  • civic engagement

Because of this, we believe that it is incumbent on:

  • educational institutions to ensure the structured development of oracy skills is central to their work across the curriculum
  • employers and higher and further education institutions to encourage schools to develop oracy skills
  • academic & research bodies and schools to carry out and disseminate evaluations and impact assessment studies related to oracy education
  • government and related bodies to reflect the importance of oracy in policy-making and curriculum design

To this end, we exist to:

  • amplify the status of oracy skills in the school curriculum
  • support oracy education in schools by facilitating the sharing of good practice, resources and research related to oracy
  • use our combined resources to lobby relevant bodies, with the objective of ensuring that the importance of oracy in education is reflected policy making and curriculum development

How we will do this:

  • Providing training for teachers and students in oracy
  • Sparking collaboration and innovation around oracy skill development
  • Articulating the case for oracy
  • Providing a web-based space for collaboration
  • Organising and attending meetings/conferences/CPD training/oracy-focused Teach Meets
  • Carrying out oracy related research
  • Engagement with government and other agencies
  • Engagement with universities and other research bodies


Speaking FranklyHow can debating help communication skills? Or drama? Can oracy be used effectively in the early years school environment? What does an oracy-centred curriculum look like in practice? All these questions and more are answered in Speaking Frankly, a collection of essays by teachers, educationalists and oracy experts. Download the entire publication here, or browse individual chapters here.

State of Speaking in our SchoolsOracy: the State of Speaking in our Schools shines a light on the current state of oracy in schools across the UK. It synthesises existing research on oracy, and explores teachers’ understanding of what oracy is, why they feel it matters, how oracy is supported in classrooms and schools, and the main barriers to oracy. It then sets out recommendations for enhancing the quality and consistency of oracy in our schools. Read the research, authored by the education thinktank LKMco, here.

And that’s not all. The resources section allows you to search for lesson plans; for teacher training materials to use and adapt; and for ideas and tips on making assemblies, coaching groups and even parents’ evenings more interactive and fun.

Search all resources

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Launch of the Oracy Network

The network was launched on 8th November 2016 at the House of Lords, where two publications were promoted: Speaking Frankly – a collection of essays making the case for oracy in the school curriculum – and a research report on the current State of Speaking in Schools. A Commission on the Future of Speaking in Schools was also announced.

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Each year, The English-Speaking Union hosts national public speaking winners, aged 16-20, from around 50 countries to take part in the International Public Speaking Competition. In 2017, the grand final will feature the top 6-8 participants who will speak on the topic ‘Peace is not an absence of war’ and then take questions from the audience. The event will take place at the iconic Royal Institution in London (venue of the famous BBC Christmas Lectures), from 1.40pm until 5.00pm on Friday 12th May 2017.

As part of the ESU’s ongoing mission to engage as many young people with oracy as possible, UK teachers and students are able to attend the event for free. If you are interested in attending, please contact William Stileman who will be happy to reserve up to ten spaces per school, dependent on availability.

A video featuring 2016’s final can be seen here.

For ESU members and the general public, tickets can be booked here.

We will also be live-streaming the final, so even if you are not able to be there, you can allow your students to experience this truly inspiring event. This will be available on this link on Friday 12th May 2017.


The content of this website is user-driven. Please send any oracy-related resources, news items, blogs, links etc. to contact@oracynetwork.org We will do our best to post your materials as soon as we can, so that everyone can benefit from them.

If you are an educational charity or organisation with an oracy focus and would like to signpost your services here, please send a high resolution jpeg of your organisation’s logo, plus a brief summary of your services to contact@oracynetwork.org

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