Oracy All-Party Parliamentary Group – Speak for Change Inquiry final report
Richard Hull, Director, Talk The Talk
Today, the Oracy All-Party Parliamentary Group has published its final Speak for Change Inquiry report which highlights the devastating impact of the pandemic on the already marked spoken ‘language gap’ between disadvantaged students and their peers.
The ability to communicate effectively is an essential ingredient to both success in school and beyond. The Inquiry has heard compelling and wide-ranging evidence as to why oracy is vital for children and young people’s educational progress and life prospects, and about the detrimental impact for those who miss out. Good oracy skills underpin academic attainment, literacy, confidence and wellbeing, employability and civic engagement.
The report from the group of cross-party MPs finds:
- The pandemic has widened the ‘language gap’: Two thirds of primary teachers across all stages and nearly half of secondary teachers say school closures had a negative effect on the spoken language development of students eligible for pupil premium, compared with 1 in 5 teachers for their most advantaged pupils.
- The absence of oracy in children’s education hampers their long-term opportunities and job prospects: Unemployed young people are almost twice as likely as those in employment or full-time students to feel that their schooling did not give them sufficient oracy skills for success in later life.
- There is a concerning variation in the time and attention afforded to oracy across schools leaving the development of many children and young people’s oracy skills and ability to chance: Less than half (46%) of primary teachers and a quarter (23%) or secondary teachers say they are confident in their understanding of the ‘spoken language’ requirements outlined in the National Curriculum.
- There is a powerful cross sector consensus on the importance of oracy supported by a robust evidence base: Yet educators have argued that oracy is positioned as a peripheral rather than central concern, and schools report focusing on oracy despite, not because of, the prevailing climate of policy and accountability.
The Oracy APPG is calling for a shift in the priority and value given to oracy in education. As a member of the Oracy Network, Talk The Talk have been supporting the Speak for Change Inquiry and we welcome this report to create shared expectations for oracy across schools and better support for teachers, so that all children’s entitlement to oracy education can be fulfilled by every teacher in every classroom.