Oracy at Castle Phoenix Trust


We will create a learning environment where pupils become confident communicators with the aim of improving their social mobility

“Talk is the foundation of learning”

Kulvarn Atwal, The Thinking School

Whilst our schools might approach oracy slightly differently, according to their context and cohorts, our core principles and beliefs are the same.  We believe that spoken language is fundamental to the health, wellbeing, progress and achievement of our pupils and it is every adult’s role in our schools to support the development of these skills. Castle Phoenix schools recognise the importance of oracy and we intentionally create formal and informal opportunities for our pupils to develop their ability to express themselves appropriately and fluently.  We aim for our pupils to be confident communicators who can transfer their skills to any situation, adjusting their speech accordingly.

Oracy forms part of our overall ethos and plays a prominent role in our Learning and teaching. It is one of our 6 Trust Ambitions with each of our schools having a clear vision for oracy which aims to develop pupils’ ability to talk and their ability to learn through talk.  Oracy is championed through our Trust Oracy Steering Group who meet termly to share ideas and strategies and there is at least one colleague with responsibility for oracy in every school. 

Pupils are encouraged to listen actively to a diverse range of views, question and challenge sensitively and make informed and articulate contributions to discussion which show that they are maturing global citizens, capable of successfully communicating and excelling in life beyond our schools.  There is a clear shared understanding of the need to develop our pupils’ oracy skills to enable them to secure the best careers possible and contribute effectively to their wider community.

Within lessons, expectations of oracy are high and our teachers empower pupils to use their talk to improve their learning.  Pupils’ voices and opinions are valued across our schools and we foster a culture of “Respect for all, from all”, believing in respectful and productive relationships in all aspects of school life.  Staff foster good communication with each other and our pupils, modelling expectations of talk.  Spoken language opportunities are embedded throughout our curriculum and lessons are talk and vocabulary rich with teachers skilfully using questioning to develop oral responses further.

Planned oracy experiences in lessons include:

  • Explicit vocabulary instruction
  • Whole class discussion
  • Debates
  • Talk partners
  • Presentations
  • Group discussions
  • Think, pair, share
  • Talking points
  • Enquiry questions
  • Sentence starters for talk
  • Talk tactics
  • Talk detectives
  • The Literacy Ladder
  • Drama

Extra curricular opportunities for pupils to develop their oracy skills further include (but are not limited to):


  • Leadership roles within school
  • Playtimes
  • Pupil voice activities
  • Assemblies
  • Productions
  • National initiatives such as Oracy Odysey and no pens Wednesday

Continuous Professional Learning

All of our schools are currently championing oracy across our Trust with their direct involvement as Voice21 schools.  As part of their oracy journey, they are being supported by a Voice21 consultant to develop pupils and staff to improve oracy provision and skills in their schools, working towards the Oracy Benchmarks. This work is being shared more widely across our Trust through our Continuous Professional Learning events.

Additionally, Voice21 and Kulvarn Atwal author of The Thinking School, have delivered bespoke training to teaching staff in our Trust to develop our pedagogy and understanding of what oracy looks like across the curriculum and how we can implement it successfully.  Training has also included a focus on language for wellbeing and mental health.

“Listen with curiosity. Speak with honesty. Act with integrity. The greatest problem with communication is we don’t listen to understand. We listen to reply. When we listen with curiosity, we don’t listen with the intent to reply. We listen for what’s behind the words.”

Roy T. Bennett, The Light in the Heart

For further information on oracy, please visit our individual school pages.