We want every pupil at Ark Castledown to find their voice – metaphorically and literally. Focusing on oracy, our aim is

to ensure our pupils are provided with the communication, presentation and interpersonal skills needed to thrive in the


Oracy is the ability to communicate effectively. As stated by A.Gaunt: “It is through spoken language that we make

meaning, build relationships, and interact with the world around us.” At Ark Castledown, oracy is a moral cause. One of

the biggest barriers to young people’s achievement is a lack of eloquence. Employers put good oral communication at

the top of their requirements, yet we rarely teach it systematically in schools.

As practitioners, we have the power to create language-rich classrooms which is filled with talk and rich discussion.

Whilst research has found that good oracy leads to higher order thinking and deeper understanding, on average a child

in a deprived area speaks no more than 4 words a lesson. An important advantage to good oracy teaching is the effect

this has outside the classroom in supporting the development of pupils’ confidence and self-esteem. As A.Gaunt has

identified: “Placing value on their ideas and opinions not only contributes towards their sense of self-worth, but also

builds a greater sense of community and belonging in school.”

Our aim as a school, therefore, is to elevate speaking to the same status as reading and writing. We have developed a

framework, devised by Cambridge University, which breaks down oracy into four strands:

  • Physical – voice, body language
  • Linguistic – word choice to convey ideas
  • Cognitive – thought process and formulate ideas
  • Social emotional – confidence, interaction, listening

How do we teach Oracy at Castledown?

Through verbally elaborating on their ideas, building on the contributions of others, and questioning the basis of each

other’s thinking, pupils actively engage in and monitor their own learning, deepening their understanding of concepts

and ideas.

All staff at Ark Castledown are oracy teachers. There is an understanding across all subject areas of how talk aids

teaching, analysis and higher order thinking.

It's through children discussing ideas with each other, elaborating on them and coming up with their own conclusions

which lead to a deeper understanding of concepts and ideas. Talk is learning and aids thinking, leading to pupils

becoming more articulate. Speaking is a huge priority for us at Ark Castledown and it is found to be one of the biggest

indicators of success in later life; it’s important in terms of pupil’s future employability and their well-being. If a child

cannot express themselves and communicate how they’re feeling, they’re not going to be successful members of society.

At the heart of each subject specialism is an understanding of how talk aids analysis and understanding of that subject.

We aim to embed this work into all subject areas using two types of talk: Exploratory and Presentational:

Exploratory – solving problems, discussing an issue, explaining or interpreting an image, engaging in role-play

Presentational – participating in a debate, hosting an event, giving a presentation, answering a question

Teaching oracy requires practitioners to put deliberate and systematic intention behind how they guide and organise

student talk. Our framework ensures that this is enabled the journey of a child’s career at Castledown.

We have devised a range of opportunities for our pupils to develop in these two types of talk.

Discussion and debate assemblies Castledown Expos Parents’ Evenings – Pupil Presentations Maths Play 5 by 5 Pupil Council

1. Our assemblies play a key role in building a culture of talk and debate within our school. We pose a philosophical questions to the pupils in order to discuss in pairs and groups within their class circle. This gives the children a chance to develop a range of oracy techniques and get pupils used to speaking confidently in front of a larger audience.

2. Castledown Expos are an opportunity for pupils to showcase their beautiful work. This presentational talk allows pupils to use subject-specific vocabulary and explain their key ideas at the end of a unit of work to an authentic audience. These events transform the hall into a bustling hub of activity in which talk is at the heart.

3. We want our Parents evenings to be an experience for both the pupil and the parent by putting the pupil in the driving seat. The child will communicate their learning journey and describe both their achievements and discuss any areas for future improvement. This approach to parents evening empowers our pupils by developing their oracy skills but, more importantly, gives an opportunity for parents to see their child as confident and competent speakers and learners. This in turn, strengthens the home-school learning connection. 4

. Three times a year, parents are invited to the Ark Castledown Maths Play events. This involves pupils exploring a maths problem and creating their own activity to share and explore with their parents. These events give the pupils an opportunity to share their work with their parents and develop their oracy skills through presentation and explanation of their activity.

5. 5 by 5 gives the pupils in Year 5 an opportunity to give a 5-minute presentation 5 times a year to their parents on a topic of their choice.

6. Pupil voice is integral at Ark Castledown. We encourage pupils to interview for the role of school council in their class and they develop their exploratory skills through discussing issues within their own school and helping to solve any problems together as a community.

7. At the end of each Key Stage, pupils celebrate their achievements in an assembly where they reflect and describe their journey through that Key Stage.