Oracy Training in South Wales, January 2019 – A Crucial Life Skill – Boosted by Schools, with Jenny and Circle Time

‘Oracy is a crucial skill – we’re in danger of producing a generation unable to speak in public’, says an English teacher who has put oracy skills back into the heart of the curriculum – and she describes the benefits, for both teachers and pupils, to be immeasurable (TES March 2018). She states that there is a real danger of focusing too much on written responses in literacy and non-literary texts, which is where oracy training can help. It follows that most screen-based activities that many children are involved in will do little to support the development of their own oracy skills.

The importance of being able to speak out, and listen, is often under-rated in favour of written work but its importance appears to be increasingly coming to the attention of practitioners in Wales when they called to speak to Jenny about oracy training, with Estyn in 2018 writing an update for inspectors as follows:

“First, inspectors should place the most focus on the development of pupils’ oracy skills and the standards they achieve in using these skills in Welsh lessons and around the school.  Pupils generally need to develop far greater confidence in their use of spoken Welsh.  Inspectors should spend more time securing evidence about pupils’ oracy skills in Welsh than their skills in reading or writing in primary schools.”  Estyn January 2018 – Update for inspectors”

It is clearly equally important for children to further their oracy skills in English-speaking schools too, or in any language of a school. The fear is that we might be producing a generation of students too constrained to speak in public. Whereas orators are very much needed for the future in society.

Jenny was delighted to receive an oracy training enquiry from a secondary school in South Wales. They wanted to work with the feeder primary schools to develop a new tradition of oracy for all the children. Circle Time is so multi-functional and Jenny was pleased to use circle time to support these schools in achieving their aims. With this aim, she is carrying out a large Closure INSET training day with more than 200 delegates from both primary and secondary schools. This is followed by a very practical ‘working in school day’ to boost oracy skills. During the Closure INSET training day, Jenny’s focus will be upon exploring the development of oracy within the classroom and within the whole school. Her Whole School Model helps to bring speaking, listening and general social skills into regular, focused sessions. This helps children build their confidence for speaking and listening and for the development of self-esteem. A range of strategies will be encouraged within the sessions including games, activities, stories, turn-taking strategies, music, scripts, puppets and problem-solving. 

Practitioners will be encouraged to use reflective practice, involving children through circle time in the responsibility of creating a calm classroom that is ideal for pupil voice, oracy. Also a spirit of speaking and listening, and a team building approach to building social and emotional intelligence.

Training involves ideas such as the following:

  • Involving your children through circle time, in the responsibility of creating a calm classroom; a team building approach to building social and emotional intelligence
  • Demonstration with children using The Five Skills / Five Step model.
  • Debriefing the observers
  • What did you see happening in the circle?
  • What strategies was I using to promote co-operation?
  • How and when did I use the Five Skills / Steps model? – How did the children respond?
  • What did the children learn today?
  • How can you implement what you have seen today in your own practice?

Although the Closure INSET day was a day when pupils are not in school, Jenny felt it was important to work with a class of pupils and is very grateful to a local primary school for offering to walk a class of Year 6 pupils over for the demonstration lasting an hour.

Oracy in schools isn’t the only initiative taken by the Welsh Government as a campaign running throughout 2018. A campaign to encourage parents, carers and guardians to take time to talk, listen and play to help their child’s language development and communication skills has been launched by the Welsh Government. This is called the ‘Take time’ campaign. Research shows that children who receive this attention have a greater capacity for language, and later literacy, boosting their communication skills and chances of success in later life.

Website Manager’s Notes

  1.  All of Jenny’s training promotes core values which include speaking, listening, oracy and respect within schools and early years settings. Please phone 01225 767157 or email circletime@jennymosley.co.uk to enquire about training.
  2. Jenny Mosley is available for better behaviour and lunchtimes and playtimes INSET training days, Working In School Days and for different length projects involving several schools for schools training. All Jenny’s training can encourage friendships
  3. Find out about booking Jenny or attending open training conferences around the country throughout the year. Jenny also excels as an educational presenter at schools conferences, LA conferences and Headteacher conferences.
  4. The areas of Jenny’s expertise include training for positive behaviour for learningearly years trainingtraining for midday supervisors and lunchtime supervisors, to promote calm dining halls and healthy, active playgrounds, also training for promoting social and communication skills for learning and training for mental health and wellbeing. To find out more about Dining Hall Helpers please ask.
  5. Jenny’s resources support all her areas of training and are available form her webshop.
  6. To contact us please phone 01225 767157 or email circletime@jennymosley.co.uk or use the contact form on our website. We look forward to hearing form you.
  7. Do see Jenny’s Calm Dining Halls articles in Headteacher Update and the TES.