Yesterday we published this document, sending it out to parents. Since working with Martin Robinson on our Trivium-fueled curriculum, Rhetoric has been high on the agenda. We appointed a Director of Spoken Literacy – Andrew Fitch, our 2 i/c in English – and he has produced some superb guidance for structured speech events in the classroom – as captured here. We have also promoted the idea that teachers should teach student to speak properly – very explicitly, as captured in this post.
However, our feeling was that, despite the guidance and encouragement, it’s too easy for this important idea to be left to chance. I don’t want it to depend on a particular child’s unique combination of teachers as to whether they get a regular diet of opportunities to develop their capacity for rhetoric. We needed a plan. Using our CPD structure we asked all departments to contribute to the Roadmap – Andrew’s excellent term for what is needed – and here it is. I love it. This is going to be brilliant. In March/April, every student in Year 8 will engage in Project Soapbox where they have to give a five minute speech from memory on a subject of their choice. This is the launch of what will become, we hope, a defining feature of our curriculum. And, yes, Andrew did visit School21 and took a lot of ideas from there!
From a leadership perspective, this has been an interesting process. It’s demonstrated the need for both culture and systems; for sowing seeds to build enthusiasm and for direct leadership to drive an idea through to fruition. We now have a plan that needs to be delivered. It’s the start of what will be a long-term development process. The final test will be the quality of the outcomes and how they improve over time.
But now, the vision is clear: Highbury Grove students – Philosopher Kids, out in the agora, telling the world how it is and how it should be.