English - Holland Park School - Commended for the BMC Award

The departmental vision was to furnish students with the skills, vocabulary and confidence to excel in life beyond school through their oracy. Oracy was centralised in the curriculum and extracurricular opportunities were provided to develop speaking skills.

The English department has successfully embedded a focus on developing students’ oracy and has been able to extend into a whole-school focus as a result. By amending school policy, adding to staff guidance, and adjusting the curriculum and the ways schemes of work are outlined, oracy has been centralised in all the department, and the wider school, does and considers in its planning and pedagogy. Oracy has also been at the forefront of documentation produced, policies altered, CPD delivered and lessons taught. The universality of this approach has meant all students have benefited.

Due to the introduction of schemes of work specifically targeting oracy at the start of Years 7, 8 and 9, students were able to be challenged following the first Lockdown to regain their confidence and ability to speak clearly in academic contexts. Students designed and delivered spoken presentations that introduced them to future work topics. Additionally, all existing English schemes of work were re-evaluated with oracy in mind, with the incorporation of universal colour coding that highlighted opportunities to develop oracy.

Outside of the classroom, a range of activities take place that further promote oracy skills. This includes an annual school production, annual participation in the Shakespeare Schools Festival, First Story, and regular poetry recitation challenges.

Throughout the school, improving teachers’ access to knowledge, guidance, and practical ideas on fostering students’ oracy has been at the forefront of the project. Additions to The Staff Planner and a new Language and Literacy policy have reflected the new focus on oracy. The weekly staff bulletin has also included suggestions on how to develop students’ oracy through lesson activities. English teachers have additionally received guidance in department CPD sessions.