Speaking frankly, oracy should be given more time.

On Tuesday 8th November, there was a publication pile-up drawing attention to the importance of oracy in the school curriculum. Staff at Highbury Grove contributed to all three:

Firstly, the free online book Speaking Frankly was published by the English Speaking Union, a project coordinated by their Director of Education, Duncan Partridge.  Andrew Fitch, our Director of Oracy, and I both contributed chapters:

Download the pdf here.

My chapter tells the story of the work we’ve started at Highbury Grove including the superb Project Soapbox featured below and our Rhetoric Road Map.

Project Soapbox – the full blog his here.

The second publication was a review of oracy in schools by LKMco and Voice 21.

Download this here

The key outcomes of the report are summarised in this short list:


The final conclusion is that much more needs to be done:

Fundamentally what is needed is a shift in mindset so that teachers and schools believe oracy forms a integral part of teaching and learning, rather than something it is nice to do only when there is time.

Coinciding with the publication of this report and Speaking Frankly, Melissa Benn wrote an excellent article for the Guardian, featuring an account of her visit to Highbury Grove.

Read the full article here: 

We appreciated the fact that Melissa understood our challenges, our ambition and the journey we’re on.  She wasn’t expecting it to be all-singing, all-dancing oracy  – not yet.  Melissa would have enjoyed the Year 8 English lesson I saw this week which was being delivered through some short student-led teaching episodes. Here is Trevelle and his partners discussing civil rights as part of their work on Of Mice and Men. Trevelle is a born teacher frequently asking his peers to give better, more extended answers:

Oracy in action 


One comment

  1. This is a wonderful blog post. This recent focus on “21st century skills” such as oracy is really interesting. There is plenty of scope for integrating IT equipment with teaching oracy. For example using interactive whiteboards to their full potential to encourage children to make creative presentations with interactive features. Enjoyment and confidence are closely linked so tailoring class activities to what children enjoy is often effective.


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