'Language opens doors. It unlocks the world of reading and the imagination, the excitement of writing, the capacity to explore new subjects and releases our potential to learn and grow as an individual. In schools, it underpins progress, impacts on attainment throughout primary and secondary years, affects self-esteem and behaviour and plays a huge role in a child’s future life chances. Without enough language – a word gap – a child is seriously limited in their enjoyment of school and success beyond.' - Jane Harley (Why Closing the Word Gap Matters)
How Schools are Closing the Word Gap
As part of our continuous aim to improve children's oracy skills, we have been taking part in the Oxford University Press' project to close the word gap. A case study of how we have implemented the project and how it has been successful in our school, can be found in the recently published report 'How Schools are Closing the Word Gap'.
At Trinity, our aim in spoken language is to provide a sound foundation for the development of oracy skills. At the heart of good oracy is a dialogic classroom. Our classrooms are rich in talk, from effective questioning to constructive peer discussions and teachers using talk skilfully to develop and encourage critical thinking. This is also reflected in our learning environments which are designed to inspire and cultivate a love of oracy.
Each year, many of our pupils start their learning journey with language skills below that of their age and current research appears to back this up, especially amongst the most disadvantaged pupils. As a school we are so committed to tackling this problem that oracy sits at the heart of our curriculum and community. Oracy is not a standalone lesson, but is an integral part of our pedagogy.
Our oracy curriculum will enable children to:
Our school curriculum is rich in oracy opportunities:
To build pupil’s cultural capital, subject leaders have planned topics that are both locally and nationally relevant and important; the vocabulary lists chosen, reflect this diversity.
In EYFS, Communication and Language is seen as the ‘Golden Thread’ that runs throughout the curriculum.
Adults working in the EYFS-
Engage children in reading a wide range fiction and non-fiction books, providing the opportunity to use and embed new words
· Plan with consideration of children’s interests to stimulate discussion and provide language rich opportunities
· Develop real life experiences such as local walks and educational visits to stimulate discussions and widen children’s vocabulary
· Encourage the use and extension of language and the development of listening skills in both large and small groups and on a one-to-one basis
· Create a language rich environment supporting the themes, interests and experiences that children can relate to
· Provide a differentiated curriculum to ensure accessibility to the curriculum for all children
· Display visual self- help aids across the school to support children’s understandings
· Implement and teach The Little Wandle phonic programme that develop listening and attention skills as well as encouraging early talk
Teachers and TA’s in Reception have received training in: The NELI programme, Language and Speech Link and have attended 5 CPD sessions delivered by the Oracy Lead
Impact- The magic of Oracy
We have found that when children explore learning through various oracy strategies and are exposed to new vocabulary they better retain this knowledge. This leads to learning becoming memorable and engrained. Meaning when children are presenting or writing, the language they use are of a higher level with a deeper understanding. To ensure knowledge is retained children have a ‘learning journey’ on Tapestry which follows them through the school. The ‘learning journey’ creates a snap shot of each topic the children have taken part in. This means children can recall and make links to their previous learning ready to build on and give context to subsequent learning. Using our new assessment tracking grid teachers are expected to assess on Insight children’s oracy skills over the year. Teachers should be aware of children’s next steps and of any gaps they have in their knowledge. The oracy team use this tracking data to monitor progress and plan actions. The oracy team have a rigorous monitoring process which ensures high level teaching and consistent expectations.