The importance of children’s communication skills – talking and listening – is at the heart of an ongoing initiative at Ramsgate Arts Primary.
A special focus week centred on oracy – the ability to express yourself fluently and communicate effectively with other people – has involved all age groups, guest speakers and families.
The busy and varied programme included writing and recording RAPS raps with Rock On Music Academy, radio presenting with Filipe Gnomes who is artistic director of Ramsgate Radio, improvisation with The Noisy Classroom, oral story telling with drama specialist Martin Gibbon, writing stories through songs with Naomi Hammerton, debate and discussion workshops with Simple Politics.
Deputy Head of School Hannah Beech hosted a lunchtime debate club, teacher Josh Cialis delivered poetry sessions, while local poet Harry Baker was involved with workshops and a whole school poetry assembly.
Mrs Beech, who co-ordinated the event, explained: “Our main school aims for developing spoken language in our children comprises three key drivers – to provide them with a wide and rich range of vocabulary; to encourage the skills to express themselves effectively; and to offer the opportunity to develop performance and public speaking skills.
“At RAPS we teach oracy in two ways. Firstly, discretely through a progressive curriculum that aims to help children develop knowledge and skills in oracy. Secondly, our teachers use a wide range of strategies to promote talk in every lesson to ensure children develop their vocabulary, articulation and confidence in speaking.
“Our main message for oracy at RAPS and beyond is quite simple – everyone benefits from talk.”
Throughout the week all lessons were delivered with oracy at the centre. There were also opportunities for families to discover more about the initiative, with several parents involved in delivering the specialist workshops.
Head of School Nick Budge said the special week was a strong way of reinforcing the developing skills of RAPS children. He added: “It is important for us to provide lots of opportunities to learn and express learning through talk to become a strong and effective communicators.”
Research shows five key areas where oracy has a particularly notable impact on children and young people’s progress and life prospects.
These are academic outcomes; tackling social disadvantage; transitions into further education; training and employment; wellbeing; and citizenship and empowerment.
The recent ‘Speak for Change’ all-party Government inquiry into the importance of oracy highlights the significant impact of the pandemic on the already marked spoken ‘language gap’ between disadvantaged students and their peers.
It discussed how oracy nourishes healthy debate, helps us bridge divides, navigate disagreement and understand different perspectives.
Inquiry chair Emma Hardy MP said: “We have defined the vision we should work towards and the steps that can be taken now to help us make progress. This report is the start of the conversation, a means of opening up the channels of communication with those who can take action. So let’s get talking – we have been quiet about oracy for too long.”
The full report can be found online at.oracy.inparliament.uk/speak-for-change-inquiry.