Best Practice

Teaching students how to talk

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Schools can make great strides in tackling underachievement by improving students’ spoken language skills across the curriculum. Jean Gross, the former government Communication Champion for children, reports on some of the great practice she has seen.

We don’t need communication skills in my lessons,” said one maths teacher to me during my time as Communication Champion. I think he was missing a trick, when research consistently shows that activities which develop spoken language skills make a significant contribution to attainment. 

They also make a huge difference to employability; 47 per cent of employers report that they cannot get recruits with the oral language ability they need in an age when high-level business jobs require teamwork and presentation skills, and where today’s 16-year-old school-leaver is much less likely to go to work in a shipyard or factory than a shop, coffee bar or call centre – all of which require good communication skills.

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