At Roselands we have placed Oracy at the heart of everything. We have a clear oracy strategy with a framework for teaching the spoken language skills that are demonstrably central to thinking, to communicating, to learning and to succeeding in education – and in life.
Until recently, it has been assumed that children simply develop the skills of oracy naturally as they grow and move through their school years. But many do not, and their life chances are blighted as a result. We believe oracy skills are not just important for children’s futures as citizens and independent adults, but for their present, their everyday learning in class that is the basis for their future success. At Roselands the emphasis is placed on children receiving direct teaching of oracy skills, just as they need direct teaching of literacy, technical or mathematical skills.
What are oracy skills?
Oracy is the effective use of spoken language. For the child, oracy skills enable them to express themselves fluently in speech. Oracy skills fall into two broad categories; presentational and dialogic.
Presentational oracy skills influence the way we use spoken language for effective communication. We learn and develop skills of spoken language that help us to convey a gripping or heartrending story; to become a convincing character in a play; to be heard and to make our point effectively; to teach or explain things to others; or to ‘hold forth’ on a subject using persuasive rhetoric to build our case. Many schools teach these skills, as well as the skills of debating where we also learn how to manage an audience and our opponents’ attempts to win them over. These skills are well documented (and have been since Aristotle) and largely consciously learned and so are relatively easy to talk about and think about.
Dialogic oracy skills are the skills we employ when we use talk to solve problems, to create joint ideas and negotiate rational solutions when working with others in groups. These involve having the skills to elicit and attend to other points of view; to consider reasons and to weigh up different views; or to come to a joint decision – to negotiate aloud. These skills include respecting the ideas of others, turn-taking, listening or interjecting at just the right moment to elaborate on someone’s point or qualify or extend someone’s idea, the capacity to explain, and even the ability to admit a lack of understanding where necessary. And all of this has to happen in ways that preserve the group members’ collective will to collaborate, compromise and share their ideas and is supported by our Co-operative learning.