The ESU has joined together with Voice 21 (an organisation also committed to the development of spoken communication skills) to launch an ‘Oracy Network’. This is an alliance of schools, educational charities, and academic bodies, dedicated to fostering oracy skills, as well as raising awareness of their importance.
The network launch is on 8th November at the House of Lords, where various projects associated with the network will also be announced. These will include two publications: ‘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’; an Oracy Network website, and the convening of a Commission on the Future of Speaking in Schools.
The network has already gained some high-profile supporters, including, among many others, Dame Alison Peacock, recently appointed Chief Executive of the newly formed National College of Teaching, and leading academics from Cambridge University.
The timing is critical, as illustrated by the recent decision to remove the ‘speaking and listening’ component from GCSE English assessment and to replace this with a stand-alone ‘Spoken Language Endorsement’, which has no impact on final grades gained.
In such a climate, it would be easy for schools to be tempted to devote less teaching time to developing oracy skills. However, there are many people in schools and other organisations who fully understand the continued crucial importance of providing support and guidance to students in the area of speaking and listening.
The ESU’s Director of Education, Duncan Partridge, said:
‘The ESU has always believed in the transformative potential of the spoken word. The ability to marshal concepts and ideas and to present these cogently in a spoken form, as well as to understand and give due consideration to the views of others, is key to ensuring young people leave school with the capacity to become successful and valuable members of society.’