Voice 21

The oracy framework has four key elements:

  • an oracy curriculum, which includes dedicated oracy lessons
  • strategies for building oracy into every lesson, with a training package for all schools staff
  • a whole school oracy culture, including building oracy into assemblies and parents’ evenings
  • an oracy assessment tool, which was developed in collaboration with Cambridge University and helps teachers to identify specific speaking and listening skills that pupils need to develop and monitor their progress.

The 21 Trust will train 12 other schools in the oracy approaches, this will include some training of the whole school staff and more intensive training of identified oracy leads and oracy teachers within each of the schools.

Why are we funding it?

The basis for an oracy approach within schools has some supporting evidence, with a series of studies involving a matched control showing that a course of around twelve talk-focussed lessons can improve the quality of classroom dialogue and generate substantially improved test scores in maths, science, and abstract reasoning.

The EEF previously funded a pilot of the framework in School 21 and this was evaluated by Sheffield Hallam. This found that the framework successfully fulfilled its aims and help students develop their speaking and listening skills, although recommendations for further improvements were made including refinement of the curriculum and ensuring appropriate support materials are available for the different strands.

As part of this project the 21 Trust will develop a training package for other schools and the feasibility of the approach will be tested in 12 other schools, which may have different challenges when implementing the approach. The pilot will also look for evidence that the intervention is likely to impact on academic attainment, including observing changes to teaching practice and measuring oracy improvements, as well as assessing the interventions readiness to be trailed as part of a large-scale randomised controlled trial.

How are we evaluating it?

The evaluation will be mixed-methods in nature, including observations, interviews and questionnaires. Alpha Plus will pay particular attention to whether or not schools are sufficiently prepared to deliver the intervention and whether the changes are easily implemented and result in significant shifts in teaching practice throughout the schools. The oracy assessment tool will be used to capture evidence of promise quantitatively, although the lack of a comparator means any data will need to be considered cautiously.

When will the evaluation report be due?

The evaluation report will be published in spring 2018.