#Speaking Up for Speaking!

Strong oracy skills – the ability to express oneself clearly when speaking and listen attentively – are essential for success in the world beyond school. All the schools in the RSA Family of Academies are working hard to develop pupils’ oracy. This was an area of focus for the externally led peer reviews last autumn, and is supported by a number of RSA Academies initiatives, including Takeover Day, the RSA8 student leadership programme, and debating workshops offered at RSA House.

Help from Parliament?

Last week Alison Critchley attended a House of Commons event hosted by the former primary school teacher Emma Hardy MP to share successful experience of promoting oracy in schools, and discuss how to make further progress on this agenda.

Encouragingly the event was supported by MPs from across the parties, including Parliamentary Secretary of State for Children and Families Nadhim Zahawi. Inevitably though the stand-out contributions to the discussion came from children and young people themselves. A group of pupils from School 21 carefully explained the golden rules for debate and discussion in their school: preparing their contribution carefully; inviting others in; and respecting all opinions; gently suggesting that abiding by these principle might improve the quality of debate elsewhere in the Houses of Parliament! What resonated most powerfully for me though was the 15 year old from Manchester, Olivia, who spoke passionately about the need for everyone to have training in oracy so that their voices can be heard, and that strong speaking skills should not be confined to a privileged elite.

Further information

The following organisations participated in the event and can provide support and advice on embedding oracy in schools: Voice 21, the English Speaking Union, and the English Speaking Board.

For additional information about the event see: the TES article by Geoff Barton; the piece in Schools Week by Jess Staufenberg; and the LKMCo blog by Will Millard.