On March 9th all Houses took part in the DEAR (Drop Everything And Read!) initiative. It was fantastic to see everyone taking part and getting lost in their favourite book or article.
It was also an important event. With the ever-growing popularity of social media, the ‘bite-sized’ texts that go with it and the potentially disruptive influence it can have on levels of sustained concentration, developing students’ love of reading – in whatever form it takes – is an important challenge for any school. The DEAR slot is just one element in the TS ‘roadmap’ for oral literacy.
You might wonder why I’m celebrating a reading initiative and at the same time talking about promoting oracy. The truth is that both these skills go hand-in-hand, as reading well contributes to all aspects of literacy development—including oral literacy. However, despite its potential power, speaking is too often treated like the ‘Cinderella of the ball’: it’s left behind while the two sisters, Reading and Writing, get all the attention. Underestimating the potential of superior speaking skills in increasing not only academic outcomes but also future prospects is a grave mistake. Because of this, oracy is and will continue to be a focus in Senior School, as we work together to create ‘high-quality talk’.
If oracy skills are nurtured and developed properly in an academic context, they enable students to express themselves more accurately and convey a wide range of complex ideas clearly and convincingly. Being truly literature across the curriculum doesn’t just mean that they can read and understand written content then respond effectively in writing; it also means that they can talk about their subjects accurately, comprehensively and confidently using the correct register and specific academic language. This high-quality talk can then act as a scaffold for creating even more sophisticated written texts.
It’s also important to understand that the benefits of excellent oracy go far beyond just academic achievement and future employability. For example, they boost a whole range of social, emotional and interpersonal skills, including self-confidence, self-awareness, problem-solving, resilience and empathy. These skills then naturally filter into other areas of students’ lives and follow through into adulthood, where they manifest as a competitive edge that sets them apart and sets them up for a bright and fulfilling future.
And that’s something we’re all invested in.
Written by Richard Kirtland, Head of Learning and EAL
Categories: Blog Senior Sixth Form