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Irk Valley Community School

Irk Valley Community School

‘Welcome to our valley. We are proud to grow here together’


What is Oracy?

Oracy is the capacity to use speech to express your thoughts and communicate with others.  It is "for every child to find their voice, metaphorically and literally."  [​Peter Hyman, Executive Head, School 21​]


Oracy is our ability to articulate ideas, develop understanding and engage with others through spoken language and listening...

  • In school, oracy is a powerful tool for learning; by teaching students to become more effective speakers and listeners we empower them to better understand themselves, each other and the world around them.

Oracy matters because spoken language skills are one of the strongest predictors of children’s future life chances.

  • Lockdowns have imapacted children's speech development and language skills. 76% of schools surveyed said pupils need more support with communication now more than ever. At Irk Valley we have taken steps to improve our children's future outcomes by working closely with Voice 21.

Oracy at Irk Valley

Our aim is to enrich their speaking and listening experiences and be able to give them the tools and skills they need to be confident, effective speakers who can make a positive difference in the world.


  • The more opportunities we can create for oracy means we will be creating students who can express themselves, articulate their thoughts and feelings as well as feel heard.
  • Oracy will increase our pupils' capacity to learn and succeed.
  • Oracy helps us to teach, learn and progress better contributing to the open and welcoming culture we have in our school.


If you would like further information on how you can support your child in their Oracy development, please speak to their class teacher.

If you would like to know more about Oracy teaching in general, please speak to Mrs Cross, Oracy Lead.

The Oracy Framework

 Use the oracy framework to understand the physical, linguistic, cognitive and social and emotional skills that enable successful discussion, inspiring speech and effective communication. 

In order to become effective communicators, it is important that children acquire the skills laid out in each of the four strands.  Therefore, we have developed our own Oracy curriculum which ensures a progression in skills as children move through the school.


The Oracy Curriculum at Irk Valley

In each year group, these skills are taught through the full range of subjects, which provide children with a wide variety of opportunities to practise and apply the techniques they have been taught.

How do we facilitate talk in classrooms?

Each class begins the year by setting their Discussion Guidelines, which outlines the expectations for talk.


Different groupings support different types of talk.  We use a range of groupings to support talk, which can range from practising or rehearsing ideas to oneself before sharing these with a partner or in a trio before entering a group discussion. Each grouping gives the children opportunities to develop and practise elements from each strand.


Trios: Talk with two other people.  Alternatively, talk to a partner while a third person listens in and summarises or critiques the discussion.  Or two people talk and the third listens in to summarise and critique the discussion.

Pairs: Talk to a partner.

Fishbowl: Similar to an onion. but the people in the inner circle face each other while the people on the outer circle observe the inner circle's discussion.

Traverse: Stand in two parallel lines opposite a partner.  Change partners by moving one person down to the other end of the line.

Circle: Groups of six or more people face each other in a circle.  You can step inside the circle, one at a time, to speak to the whole group.

Onion: Form an inner circle and an outer circle.  If you're in the inner circle stand back, facing a partner on the outer circle.  Speak to a new partner by rotating the inner or outer circle.

Nest: Stand apart from each other and whisper your ideas to yourself.


Question Stems

To support the children in articulating their ideas, we provide them with sentence stems. Teachers construct these sentence starters to help the children to phrase their ideas or answers to a particular question.


I think ....

I respect your point of view but ...

To build on ...

I challenge because ...

I support that because ...