Research School Network: Implementing Oracy – Exploring the Why One of our evidence advocates, John Marsh, explores how to use the new implementation guidance to start to think about the ​‘WHY’


Implementing Oracy – Exploring the Why

One of our evidence advocates, John Marsh, explores how to use the new implementation guidance to start to think about the ​‘WHY’

by Staffordshire Research School
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Start with ​‘WHY?’

In the words of Simon Senek, start with why’. 

So why is oracy so valuable for primary schools to implement into their daily practice? The evidence base is robust. 

It is broadly accepted that reading and writing float on a sea of talk’ (Britton, 1970) and it is becoming evident that oracy improves attainment in other subjects too. However, more pertinent questions are perhaps why implement oracy practices into our setting?’ and how should generic practices be adapted to best suit our children and young people?’. These questions align closely with the recently updated Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) implementation guidance report, which emphasises the importance of contextual factors on the implementation of new initiatives.

This three-part blog series will explore the why, the how and the impact of implementing oracy at Southfields Community Primary School, while also giving an insight into the application of the latest EEF guidance on implementation.

Imp cycle
The new EEF implementation guidance acts as an extremely useful tool to guide us through the process of effective implementation.

Southfields is a two-form primary setting in central Coventry with 74% EAL, 40 different languages and 40% pupil premium. Many of our pupils and families are in the process of learning English and/​or come from households whereby standard English is not modelled for them on a daily basis.

Second chance?

To paraphrase Neil Mercer, schools offer a second chance for children to receive a rich language experience and if they don’t get this at school, they won’t get it at all. 

This is an eye-opening prospect and one that adds yet more significance to the role that educators play. 

This point becomes more complex and pivotal for settings with high levels of EAL. 

Stephen Krashen’s seminal work on second language acquisition, as referenced by Voice 21 states that providing rich contexts for talk is particularly important for students learning EAL as it helps activate prior knowledge they may have in another language and therefore benefit the learning process.

These characteristics therefore make vocabulary and language acquisition key priorities for our school and curriculum. 

Southfields serves a diverse community that falls within the 10% of most deprived areas of the country according to the government’s indices of deprivation (2019). Furthermore, the range of factors influencing disadvantaged pupils in today’s society is vast. At Southfields alone, the difference in the need of one disadvantaged child to the next can make them incomparable. Therefore, it was important to ensure that children with a good level of spoken language would also benefit from oracy practices in a similar way that Quality First Teaching (QFT) benefits all learners.

Explore phase

The importance of collaboratively exploring the priority is crucial and signposted in the new EEF Implementation guidance report.

These considerations represent the Explore’ phase of the EEF’s process for implementation. They also relate closely to the importance of considering the context both externally and internally, thus explaining how we arrived at our whole-school approach. 

Rather than enhancing our English teaching alone through oracy, our goal has been to introduce it as a whole-curriculum and whole school initiative, weaving oracy practice into all lessons while simultaneously providing opportunities outside of the classroom as well. Recent curriculum developments at Southfields have offered a wealth of opportunities for oracy techniques to be implemented.

3 contextual factors
The three contextual factors helped us make sense of our reality, priorities and approach.

Looking ahead to how our new oracy practices will be implemented, the EEF’s model will provide guidance and structure as we endeavour to Engage – Unite – Reflect’ as part of our implementation model in order to maximise its impact.

3 behaviours
The three behaviours act as an anchor and reminder of the need for these elements to operate across each phase of implementation.


APPG (2021) Speak for change: Final report and recommendations from the Oracy All-Party Parliamentary Group Inquiry. Available at:… oracy/​2021 – 04/Oracy_APPG_FinalReport_28_04%20%284%29.pdf.

Corbett P and Strong J (2011) Talk for Writing Across the Curriculum. Maidenhead: Open University Press.

Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) (May 2024), A School’s Guide to Implementation Guidance Report. Available at:

Schofield (2023), Let’s talk about disadvantage: The fundamental importance of oracy in closing the gap. Impact, Issue 9 p.36 – 38.

Voice 21, EAL Learners and Oracy. Available at:

Voice 21, Why oracy should be at the heart of your reintegration strategy. Available at:

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