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Fairfield High School is delighted to be taking part in the culture-changing Oracy Project, which aspires to challenge and transform the listening and speaking habits of students throughout the school. Encouraging young people to be empathetic, confident and mindful will have wide ranging effects not just inside the classroom, but in every walk of life both in a professional and personal environment.

The Oracy Project focuses on individuals’ body language, voice projection, tone and use of language to communicate. It also concentrates on social awareness of others including listening to and considering different opinions. Put all this together and an excellent skillset for life is born.

Three Oracy Champions at Fairfield, representing Humanities and Languages, have so far attended development days, with a visit from Voice 21 (the company supporting this initiative) on the horizon. The plan then being to trial the project and adapt the practice school-wide.

Sharon Barnes, Oracy Lead and Assistant Director for Modern Foreign Languages at Fairfield, explained, “Oracy for students is incredibly important to enable students to articulate themselves better, making them aware of the language they’re using, which could also help with conflict resolution and improving whole school behaviour, as well as job interviews and the world of work further down the road.

Staff and pupils of Fairfield school in Bristol. October 2022.

“Within the classroom, I’ve seen first-hand the project’s effectiveness for group tasks. Miss White, one of our Oracy Champions, redesigned her lesson to maximise the oracy opportunities. Rather than giving students 10 facts about a geographical feature to work through individually, she dropped in one fact and then watched students as they worked together as a team using open dialogue, listening skills and respect for one another’s opinions.

“She then fed in another fact and watched the same thing happen and so on, until mutual agreement was reached. Whilst the same outcome is likely to have been achieved regardless of the process, the vital thing here is the route taken. It’s really quite astonishing!”