We are delighted to announce that The Hertfordshire & Essex High School has been awarded the ESU’s Oracy Culture Award for 2023. Recognising schools who have embedded a high-quality oracy provision across their work, this is the only national award to celebrate oracy.
The judging panel was incredibly impressed by the wide range of opportunities students at the school are given to develop their oracy skills. In class students are encourage to discuss and debate, and the wide range of extra curricular activities, including participating in the ESU’s Schools’ Mace debating competition, provide additional inspiration and support for students. There is also detailed ongoing support and CPD for teaching staff, further developed through the school’s participation in the Voice 21 programme.
Across the school, oracy is valued and supported, with student-led assemblies, spoken book reviews and Oxbridge mock interviews – which have helped students in recent years be successful in their Oxbridge applications.
Lead oracy teacher and Assistant Head Caroline Reeve submitted a compelling application to the Award, with unanimous agreement from the judges that Hertfordshire & Essex High School was the worthy winner. She says: ‘It’s so exciting to have won! Oracy has been our teaching and learning focus for the past three years, so this represents the culmination of a lot of hard work. Oracy is now firmly embedded in the curriculum, so our focus going forward will be about consolidating what we have learnt and ensuring all new staff are suitably trained.’
The sixth form debate team reached the regional finals of this year’s Schools’ Mace competition and the school – and the students – are keen to build on this success. ‘The school motto is Sic Itur Ad Astra – “reach for the stars”,’ says Caroline, ‘and this is where debating and public speaking is so important as it gives our students the confidence to find their voice and know their voice is valuable.’
It is even more important than ever to celebrate schools who are committed to excellence in oracy. The Labour government has reasserted their commitment to supporting schools and young people to develop these vital speaking and listening skills should they win the next election, and at the ESU we look forward to continuing to support schools to develop oracy skills for all their students.
Registration is currently open for the ESUs competitions. Sign up before the 27 September to take part