MPs call for oracy education to be post-Covid priority

The speaking skills of some pupils have been affected by national lockdowns, especially among our Pupil Premium cohort. Campaigners are urging government and schools to put oracy at the heart of recovery. Pete Henshaw reports

The Covid-19 pandemic has hindered oracy and language development, with the impact being felt most by students living in poverty. A cross-party group of MPs is now calling for action to prioritise oracy skills as part of Covid recovery.

The All-Party Parliamentary Group on Oracy (APPG) has published the final report of its two-year “Speak for Change” inquiry into oracy education. The work began in 2019, but the inquiry was expanded last year to focus on the impact of the pandemic.

Covid-19 and oracy

The report confirms that Covid-19 has widened the language gap for some students.

Research conducted for the inquiry by the Centre for Education and Youth (Millard et al, 2021) found that 44 per cent of secondary teachers and 66 per cent of primary teachers report that the pandemic has had a detrimental impact on the spoken language development of their Pupil Premium students. This is compared to around 20 per cent of teachers who say that the oracy skills of their most advantaged pupils have been hit.

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