Gibb stresses oracy as primary bans the word ‘like’

MPs launch inquiry following concerns oracy is ‘undervalued and overlooked within state education’

Teachers, think about your conversations with staffroom colleagues - you don't want to be seen as overly negative or untrustworthy, says Jo Steer

Schools minister Nick Gibb has talked about the importance of oracy after a primary school reportedly banned using the word “like” as a conversation filler.

Copthorne Primary School in Bradford has also discouraged children from using single-word replies such as “sad”, “nice” and “good” to questions, the Sunday Times has reported.

The newspaper says that banned words are put into “word jails” on classroom walls, and pupils are asked to find alternatives, with the word “like” objected to most often.


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The school’s executive headteacher Christabel Shepherd told the Sunday Times: “It is when children are giving you an answer and they say ‘is it, like, when you’re, like . . .’ and they haven’t actually made a sentence at all. They use the word all the time and we are trying to get rid of it.”

The Sunday Times said Mr Gibb wants teachers to think about the “important role of oracy” in classrooms, and said: “Anything that helps children broaden their vocabulary is hugely important for their future.”

Last month, the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Oracy launched an inquiry into improving oracy education in schools.

In a statement, the group said its members were “concerned that oracy is being undervalued and overlooked within state education, denying the majority of children and young people the opportunity to develop these vital skills and hampering social mobility, educational achievement, wellbeing and future employability”.

The inquiry aims to “investigate the current provision of oracy education in the UK, assess the value and impact of oracy education and identify the barriers to children accessing and receiving quality oracy education”.

Last year Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, told Tes teachers needed to learn more about oracy.

He said: “We also need to win [teachers] hearts and minds to show that oracy is a very, very significant liberator in the classroom which gives other people voices and will help you as a teacher to be able to assess, and we have to win that argument with teachers.”

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