Ellen Punter, teacher, lecturer and Acting Chair of the Ouse Valley Branch of the English-Speaking Union recently wrote an article for Impact, the journal of the Chartered College of Teaching in which she reflects on the importance of incorporating speaking and listening skills into the primary curriculum.
In it, she starts by defining the term oracy. She points out how explicit teaching of the skill has positive outcomes on the way children approach learning, on their behaviour and on their mental health, and then considers the negative impact of the recent Covid pandemic on oracy teaching.
She then goes on to describe the Ouse valley Branch’s oracy activities, highlighting how they build on the research undertaken by Dr Tony Wood, former Vice Chancellor of the Universities of Luton/Bedfordshire and former Chair of the Ouse Valley (OV) Branch, which showed that primary school children who followed a sustained oracy programme made test improvements which greatly exceeded those of the children in the control group.
With quotes from children in the branch’s public speaking competitions and workshops, and from teachers who have attended its mentoring sessions, she concludes that by enhancing pupils’ oracy skills, teachers are then more able to develop students’ capacity and enthusiasm to listen effectively, learn new things, retain information, share it appropriately and grow in self-confidence.