How oracy education gives confidence and a voice.
Empowering children through oracy
by Aspirer Research School
This week saw the release of the latest EEF guidance report, ‘Improving Primary Science.’ Below, you’ll find a summary of the key points.
The report begins by framing the issue: young people from disadvantaged backgrounds are less likely to excel in science and are also less inclined to pursue science at the further education level. By supporting school leaders and teachers to establish a robust foundation for the teaching of science in primary schools, the EEF aims to bridge the attainment gap and inspire all pupils to be curious about the world they live in and to think scientifically. This, in turn, may encourage them to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields.
The report outlines a systematic approach to teaching science, aiming to assist teachers and school leaders in enhancing the quality of science education throughout the school. If implemented effectively, it is hoped that pupils, regardless of their backgrounds, will be motivated to actively engage with scientific learning.
Six practical recommendations, grounded in robust evidence.
Throughout the guidance report, there are opportunities for teachers and senior leaders to reflect upon current practice and engage in professional discussion about how we encourage children to think scientifically and how we relate scientific knowledge to relevant real-world contexts. Models and worked examples enable the reader to contextualise the evidence and gain an understanding of what it might look like in the classroom. There are helpful cues about why the recommendation is important and suggestions about how to implement each recommendation.
Recommendation 1 encourages teachers to explicitly teach new words and their meanings, creating opportunities for repeated engagement over time. This can be achieved by providing opportunities for repeated modelling in context and exposing pupils to new vocabulary across all literacy activities. Additionally, it promotes rich language connections that help pupils understand the relationships between words and concepts.
Recommendation 2 focuses on cultivating reasoning and explanation. In this section, there is an emphasis on shared dialogue between the teacher and pupils, as well as among pupils themselves. Paired, group, and whole-class discussions allow pupils to ‘call on their own understanding, listen to new information and perspectives, and consider how this relates to theirs.‘
Suggestions to encourage high-quality discussion include:
- Plan key questions and discussion points in advance.
- Use strategic follow-up questions to guide the dialogue.
- Maintain a balance between teacher and pupil voices.
This guidance report applies the 7‑step teaching model as a framework to develop independent learners — a scaffolding structure that deliberately shifts the responsibility for learning from the teacher to the pupil. This is done carefully over time, enabling the pupils to develop into independent, competent, and confident learners.
Recommendation 4 suggests that teachers include applications of science in real-world contexts to facilitate the development of students’ understanding of science. This approach helps to demonstrate the purpose of scientific concepts and emphasises their relevance by connecting them to pupils’ experiences. Ensuring the integration of real-world contexts enriches the learning experience and aligns with the needs and backgrounds of all students.
Recommendation 5 centres on assessment and responsive teaching. It provides examples of assessment techniques designed to elicit current knowledge and understanding at the beginning of a topic. These assessments can be conducted as whole-class activities, in small groups, or individually, tailored to the topic at hand. The report emphasises the significance of planning learning that builds on existing knowledge and experiences, as well as monitoring pupils’ learning to inform responsive teaching, feedback, and next steps.
The final recommendation, Recommendation 6, focuses on improving science teaching through effective professional development and successful implementation. Teachers and leaders are encouraged to use a range of information to identify improvement priorities that are amenable to change. Consideration must be given to the evidence base before implementing any school improvement strategy. A professional development program should aim to build knowledge, motivate staff, develop teaching techniques, and embed practice.
Summary by Margaret Daly
Director of Aspirer Research School
Empowering children through oracy
Margaret Daly on why it is important to consider context when adopting a new feedback policy in a school setting.
Michelle Cobb, ELE at Aspirer, reflects on implementing a systematic approach to develop fluency across the school.
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