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Spoken Language


At Woodrow First School and Nursery, we value Spoken Language as an important part of the children’s entitlement to a broad and balanced curriculum. Spoken Language provides the children with the opportunities to develop and extend skills and an opportunity to express their individual interests, thoughts and ideas.


Our aim is to enable the children to develop their spoken language so that they are able to communicate effectively and confidently in front of different audiences.  These skills are encouraged in every area of our curriculum as good communication skills which can enhance every type of learning. The children are encouraged to explore ideas through talk; challenge each other’s opinions and develop their own reasoned arguments, as well as talking in sentences with a clear and confident voice.


Pupils  are taught to:


  • listen and respond appropriately to adults and their peers
  • ask relevant questions to extend their understanding and build vocabulary and knowledge
  • articulate and justify answers, arguments and opinions
  • give well-structured descriptions and explanations
  • maintain attention and participate actively in collaborative conversations, staying on topic and initiating and responding to comments
  • use spoken language to develop understanding through speculating, hypothesising, imagining and exploring ideas
  • speak audibly and fluently with an increasing command of Standard English
  • participate in discussions, presentations and performances
  • gain, maintain and monitor the interest of the listener(s)
  • consider and evaluate different viewpoints, attending to and building on the contributions of others
  • select and use appropriate registers for effective communication.


The teaching and implementation of the Spoken Language curriculum at Woodrow First School and Nursery is based on the Early Learning Goals and National Curriculum.  

Staff model the use of higher level vocabulary within their speech and expanding children’s vocabulary is a key focus in all years. Subject specific vocabulary is embedded across the curriculum, through teacher modelling, in context. Contextual learning helps children to understand new words and supports them in including new vocabulary when speaking.


Developing spoken language is key to children’s learning through Mantle of the Expert. This is the main vehicle for teaching children the different aspects of the National Curriculum for spoken language. Although the audience or listeners during these sessions is themselves or the teacher, through their imagination they speak and listen as if they are communicating with a client or a particular audience. Because of this they need to consider how they will sit/ stand/ face the listener; what tone they will use; which vocabulary choices to make etc. The use of dramatic inquiry gives children a meaningful purpose to their talk which goes beyond doing it just for the teacher.


Visitors come to our school to see Mantle of the Expert in action in the classroom and the children develop their confidence to speak in front of unknown people within their Mantle sessions and when talking to visitors 1:1 about their learning in this area.


Mantle of the Expert has also provided opportunities for our children to talk to real life experts such as curators and to other children such as classes in Romania and Spain. These opportunities are planned into the curriculum and focus on the need to ask good questions and listen/ respond to the answers.


In more traditional English lessons, children are given the chance to orally rehearse ideas for writing and The Write Stuff sentence stacking approach as well as our reading sessions are all packed with modelling and opportunities to improve spoken language.


With spoken language playing such a key role in Mantle and English it naturally spills out into learning across the curriculum as a way in which we learn and express ourselves at Woodrow. Every child has a point of view and a voice.


Children with additional needs are encouraged to take a full and active part in spoken language activities at a level appropriate for their needs. We employ a Speech and Language Therapist one day per week and where appropriate, targets are set which are then worked on individually or in small groups.  Our experienced Communication TAs work with children specifically in the areas of speaking, listening and collaboration.


Through the explicit teaching of speaking skills, teachers  assess children’s learning continuously. Children are given a range of  opportunities to develop these skills, in a safe and stimulating environment. The wide range of speaking and listening activities help to develop ideas, vocabulary and confidence, as, the more we talk, the more we notice different words that other people use.  In the Early Years we use the Wellcome tool to assess children's receptive and expressive language. Teachers use their observations to make informed judgements about the depth of children’s learning and the progress children have made over time. This is included in a child's end of year report to parents.  

Progression of spoken language

Progression of Spoken Language