English curriculum – spoken language

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At Dartford Primary Academy (DPA), we aim to provide a solid foundation for the development of spoken language skills and have embedded spoken language across the curriculum. It is our view that in all subjects and every lesson all children, regardless of need or background, should acquire the knowledge and skills to be able to develop their talk for learning in a range of contexts. At DPA, teachers use talk proficiently to develop and encourage thinking and reasoning skills. We believe that the ability to speak fluently, express ideas and thoughts and collaborate with peers are all vital life skills that support success in learning and life in general. Strong spoken language skills lead to higher order thinking and deeper understanding. Hence, we have designed a curriculum that focuses on vocabulary rich discussions as we want to equip our children with the knowledge and cultural capital they need to be heard, not just in school, but in their future careers.

Our Spoken Language curriculum is aligned with the English National Curriculum and delivered through the International Baccalaureate Primary Year Programme (PYP). It has been sequentially mapped to make clear the end points that the children are building towards and what children need to know and be able to do to reach those endpoints. It is also progressively planned and sequenced so that new knowledge and skills build on what has been taught before.

Our spoken language curriculum reflects the academy’s local context by addressing typical gaps in the children’s knowledge and skills and enables children to:

  • speak with confidence, clarity and eloquence;
  • recognise the importance of listening in conjunction with speaking,
  • be confident in the value of their own opinions and to be able to express and justify them to others;
  • adapt their use of language for a range of different purposes and audiences,
  • sustain a logical argument, question, reason and respond to others appropriately;
  • concentrate, interpret and respond appropriately to a wide range of immersive experiences;
  • be open-minded, to respect the contribution of others and to take account of their views;
  • celebrate the diversity of languages, dialects and accents in the school and appreciate the experience and value the contributions of children with a wide variety of linguistic abilities;
  • share their learning in an engaging, informative way through presentations, recitals, drama, poetry and debate.

Spoken Language is taught progressively at DPA and it is sequenced to develop knowledge and skills for all children to access, including those with SEND. The progression ensures that children are taught key concepts clearly, are able to embed them in their long-term memory and are able to apply them fluently through a range of talk for learning opportunities. At DPA, spoken language is embedded in all aspects of the school’s culture, weaving it through our inquiry learning and wider curriculum alongside our marking and feedback policy. Our daily classroom practices ensure children respond to high expectations, quality first teaching and modelling of speaking and listening. At DPA, the sound of ‘classroom buzz’ (purposeful talk) is encouraged. From nursery, we teach our children to talk confidently so that by the end of KS2 they can present speeches with eloquence and pride.

Adults, who work with the children, use technical vocabulary and correct terminology. They challenge misconceptions that arise about the correct use of standard English. Language is also developed through our classroom displays: the words displayed are words that children have explored and manipulated in order to support their vocabulary development. Furthermore, teachers are made aware of the most up-to-date guidance on developing spoken language through CPD opportunities in order to ensure they have expert knowledge to plan and deliver high quality learning experiences for the children they teach.

Here are some of our outstanding examples of how spoken language is taught and assessed at DPA:

In all areas of the curriculum we use ABC questioning (Agree, Build, Challenge) to stretch and develop pupils’ learning as part of whole class discussions.

  • Maths – we use question stems.
  • Writing – children build their thoughts incrementally through peer and group talk to improve vocabulary. Vocabulary word walls are visibly displayed in each classroom. Our ‘live’ feedback policy allows children to discuss their writing openly with their teacher and peers which provides immediate response to misconceptions.
  • Reading – children are given opportunities to speak about what they’ve read, recite poems, read aloud, echo read, read with fluency and expression and improve their listening skills amongst others.
  • Inquiry Learning – deep discussions promote children’s autonomy in the classroom through our ‘student-led investigations’. Pupils generate inquiry questions that are important to them and which have been stimulated by our provocations.
  • Music – Children actively feedback to each other on performances and evaluate pieces of music by a range of composers.
  • PE – Children are encouraged to engage in peer feedback and to discuss teamwork.
  • Science – Scientific investigations provide boundless opportunities for children to engage in discussions, ask questions, learn new scientific concepts and collaborate through discussions.

Spoken language development has a significant, positive impact on all of our children at Dartford Primary Academy. Through regular formative assessment we build on their cognitive development making use of various teaching methods and thus improving language skills. This enables our children to be confident speakers as seen throughout the school environment and at public performances. Consequently, all children, including those that are disadvantaged and children with SEND, acquire the knowledge and cultural capital they need to succeed in life. The children also receive constructive feedback on their spoken language and listening, not only to improve their knowledge and skills but also to make progress so they can know more, remember more and are able to do more to be ready for the next phase of education, secondary education and future careers.