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Get on board for oral skills

The Qualifications and Curriculum Authority guidelines on speaking and listening will be welcomed as, although spoken language is largely developmental, it can be enriched, steered and refined by skilled teaching.

It is a notorious "slippery eel" to pin down into schemes of work, to demonstrate and structure progression, and to record. A growing number of schools are finding the answer to these issues by joining the English Speaking Board (ESB) which has been assessing oral communication skills for 50 years and is a QCA-approved awarding body.

The assessments, run by experienced examiners skilled in bringing out the best possible oral responses from pupils, fall into four areas; a talk, a memorised presented piece, a prepared reading and discussion. Pupils are individually assessed in small participating groups, supported by their peers and are provided with a full written report graded in four sections leading to an overall result.

Literacy consultants and primary teachers who have tried the ESB with funding from the Esmee Fairbairn Foundation, have, without exception, embraced it with enthusiasm and want to continue ESB once the funding finishes.

Peer mentoring schemes have grown around preparation for assessments, ensuring growth of skills for the listener as well as the speaker. Schemes of work also fall into place easily, interwoven with PSHE and the literacy hour.

Amanda Kipling English Speaking Board 26a Princes Street Southport

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