11 May 2021
Girls aged 7-11 years at Bolton School have, over the last eighteen months, benefitted from a new initiative known as The Oracy Project.
The tenets of the programme were embedded in the curriculum after Deputy Head Mrs Holt attended an ‘Oracy Leaders Programme’ and delivered her findings to staff through a series of INSET days. Using what is known as the Oracy Framework, which was developed by Voice 21 and the University of Cambridge, subject teachers worked hard to ensure that oracy attained the same status as numeracy and literacy in the classroom.
In each subject, teachers prioritised the development of key skills which included social and emotional capabilities, including working collaboratively, speaking confidently and being aware of an audience as well as physical skills, such as using the voice and body language to convey meaning, and linguistic skills including developing vocabulary and language. Cognitive skills such as clarifying, summarising and reasoning were also developed.
Headteacher Mrs Laverick explained: ‘The research showing that oracy impacts positively on academic outcomes, on cognitive development and on promoting a sense of well-being underlined the importance of developing communication skills and strategies for 21st century learning. iPads, already an essential part of our teaching and learning, became a tool to further enhance oracy skills. Acknowledging that in typical lessons, the teacher does much of the talking, we created a culture of talk across every subject and an environment in which pupils could clearly express their thoughts and effectively communicate their ideas.’
‘When Covid struck, the importance of oracy was paramount; technology and oracy stood out as vital skills to prioritise in lockdown. Effective communication was at the core of remote learning as oracy became further entrenched in online lessons to build pupil engagement, resilience and positivity. During INSET sessions, which punctuated our academic year, we reflected on progress and shared ideas as to how to focus oracy across whole learning sequences. On our return to school, oracy skills promoting interaction between pupils have been vital to the reintegration of girls into school life.’