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VA Primary &

Nursery School

Speech and Language

'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'. 



Oracy Curriculum




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:

  • speak with confidence, clarity and eloquence;
  • recognise the importance of listening in conjunction with speaking
  • be confident in the value of their own opinions and to be able to express and justify them to others
  • adapt their use of language for a range of different purposes and audiences
  • sustain a logical argument, question, reason and respond to others appropriately
  • concentrate, interpret and respond appropriately to a wide range of immersive experiences
  • be open-minded, to respect the contribution of others and to take account of their views
  • celebrate the diversity of languages, dialects and accents in the school and appreciate the experience and value the contributions of children with a wide variety of linguistic abilities
  • share their learning in an engaging, informative way through presentations, recitals, drama, poetry and debate






Our school curriculum is rich in oracy opportunities:

  • Maths- Over the last year, we have implemented Power Maths across all year groups. One of the thigs we love so much about Power Maths is its emphasis on oracy. Children are able to engage in whole class discussions and exploratory group talk.
  • Writing- Our feedback policy has oracy at the core and the ‘live’ marking process allows children to discuss their writing openly with their teacher and peers. They can then act immediately on advice given and this cultivates a sense of collaboration and shared purpose. 
  • Reading- Blank Questioning is used in Guided Reading and children are encouraged to discuss the purpose of questions e.g. Level 1 (naming), Level 2 (describing), Level 3 (summarising) and Level 4 (justifying). Accelerated Reader and Bug Club also encourage children to engage in cumulative talk around comprehension before attempting written answers.
  • Humanities- Topics and themes are often planned around a ‘Big Question’ such as Year 2’s ‘Why don’t penguins need to fly?’ or engaging titles such as Year 3’s ‘Megacities’. Children take part in highly immersive learning led by skilled teachers and outside visitors.
  • Music- Children actively feedback to each other on group performances. 
  • PE- Children actively engage with peer feedback and are encouraged to discuss teamwork. Instructional talk is used confidently by children. 
  • Science- Scientific literacy is being developed through immersive experiences and children are continually encouraged to question their own predictions and results of experiments.
  • RE- RE topics are split into big questions which immediately spark discussion in classrooms. Key vocab is used and re-visited throughout topics. 
  • Pupil voice- At Trinity, we have our Values Champions which meet regularly to discuss issues important them and their peers. Subject leaders, SLT and other members of the school community regularly attend meetings to listen, respect and act upon the views of the children.
  • Oracy is also embedded in Forest School and is led through exploratory talk, problem solving and team work.
  • This year we have been fortunate enough to be taking part in the Plymouth Oracy Project, which is running over 4 years. The subject lead has delivered 5 CPD sessions to staff on oracy and its importance within our school.
  • Vocabulary- At Trinity, we value the importance of vocabulary by making it a priority in every lesson. As well as providing opportunities to explore vocabulary through talk and reading we plan for the explicit teaching of vocabulary across the curriculum. At the start of every new topic, new words are displayed on the vocabulary walls and split into the 3 tiers of vocabulary. These words are also sent home to parents via the Topic Webs.  All pupils are exposed to new vocabulary daily, including those who have SEN and/or disabilities and those who are disadvantaged. Vocabulary lists are adapted to cater for children with SEN and/or disabilities. Subject leaders have selected word lists for every topic; they build in complexity each year so that pupils can build upon their skills and knowledge. Vocabulary is revisited and refreshed to ensure that they become embedded. 

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.



Progression of Skills in Oracy

Oracy at Trinity

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