Oracy Teacher’s Blog

A good curriculum?

Missing a trick! What is wrong with today’s curriculum?

‘A good education is dependent on learning and obtaining knowledge of the subject,’ says Nick Gibb.

I agree that you need to learn facts and information within a subject in order to be able to talk about it. Knowledge is power. However, in order to truly master something you need to have the time and space to think about it and delve deeper.

If we want our children to have a deeper understanding of subjects why then are we so intent on adding so much content into the curriculum that there is no time to deepen the understanding of the knowledge we are learning. Is this a good education or could it be better? What’s that saying… less is more.

What are you good at?

“Mummy I’m not good at sports!”

This was how one conversation started with my 7 year old this week.

We all worry about the things we are not good at. It’s too easy to focus on negative things. Flip it around and focus on the positive things.

So I told my son “we are all good at something – you’re good at dancing!” Our conversation went on but in a far more positive light.

What are you good at?

Odd one out

“Good discussion prompts provide opportunities for pupils to share, justify and defend their ideas, listen to other perspectives and if appropriate come to a concensus.” (Stott 2019)

A good game for this is called – “Which one does not belong?”

To play you need to provide your children with 3 or 4 words, images, or objects and ask them to decide which one does not belong.

To generate the discussion it is important that any one of the objects could be the odd one out. Children must share their ideas and give reasons for them, backing them up with evidence where necessary. They must listen to others’ ideas and choose to agree or to defend their own position.

Finally they must reach a consensus!

Here’s a Maths one!

1, 9, 15, 8

You will notice that one number has two digits, one number is even and the rest are odd. Covering several bases makes for a good discussion with plenty of lines to follow.


Following on from my post about the Sri Lanka bombings…

This is a really emotive subject as many people have very strong feelings about it.

What do you say to a young child who wants to know why people do these things?

The simple answer is that we cannot say with certainty. I think for the most part they do it because they have been indoctrinated and told things that aren’t true. They do seem to really believe in what they are doing. Does this make their response right – of course not!

We all have choices in life. Choices in what we do or say. Choices in how we react to situations.

Is it ok to call someone a name because they called you one?
Is it ok to hit someone because they upset you or hurt you?

Where does it end? If we allow this then it will escalate…

I’m not for one minute suggesting that if our children hit one another they will become terrorists but by the same token terrorists also have a choice.

The news said the reason for this attack was in retaliation to shootings in Australia.

The best we can do I think is have open, frank discussions with our children – teach them and show them the right way. Don’t shy away from a conversation because it is difficult or you don’t know the answer. Use this – we don’t have all the answers but we can educate through experience and common sense.

Mummy, why do people bomb and kill others? (Warning long post alert!)

This might have been a question in your household after recent events in Sri Lanka.

The question I get asked is how do we tackle this and explain it to our children?

In this day and age when our country and cities are so diverse it is so important to teach our children about differences and how these should be celebrated. Everyone is different – in terms of skin colour, race, how tall or short you are, whether you are carrying more fat than others. We are all unique and all different and this is something that should be embraced. All too often you hear that someone is picking on someone else and it comes down to the fact that we are different. Someone doesn’t like the difference they see in the other person whether that be due to looks or personality.

I would say that this begins at home. Tolerance and respect for the little differences we have in our families. It is ok to look different. It is ok to like toys that are pink or blue or for a boy to play with dolls. These are the roots. What we ‘allow’ our children to do and say and how we respond to them will ultimately determine the type of individual they grow up to be.

I explain to my children that we need to be tolerant of what people say and the things they do. I explain that we are all different and that this is what is so special about the human race. No two people are exactly the same. With billions of people living on the planet this is amazing!

This is where we start by modelling tolerance to our children and when they comment and ask ‘why is that person a different colour to me?’ you respond with an answer along the lines of we all look different and that’s ok. Shying away from giving an answer because you feel embarrassed gives an impression to your child that there is something to be uncomfortable about. There isn’t!

We are so lucky in Plymouth to have such diversity in our city. We have a golden opportunity to live with tolerance and respect for others’ ideas and beliefs and know that it is ok to believe something else – this makes us interesting.

Maybe if we start educating our children in differences between one another from a young age there won’t be such a divide as our children grow up.

I know how I want my child to grow up and the attitude I want them to have about anyone else they might meet. Let’s start there…

Talking Points – Lyn Dawes

These are a set of controversial, thought provoking, sometimes factually incorrect statements related to a given topic to promote discussion.

See Lyn’s book – ‘Talking Points: Discussion Activities in the Primary Classroom’ for a host of ideas.

Here’s some linked to Science:

* The heavier the object, the faster it will fall.
* Any substance can change state if enough heat energy is applied.
* Trees can breathe.