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Spoken Language


Reading and writing float on a sea of talk. James Britton


What is Spoken Language?

The national curriculum for English reflects the importance of spoken language in pupils’ development across the whole curriculum – cognitively, socially and linguistically. Spoken language underpins the development of reading and writing. The quality and variety of language that pupils hear and speak are vital for developing their vocabulary and grammar and their understanding for reading and writing.


Curriculum Intent

At Captain Webb Primary School, we value Spoken Language as an important part of the children’s entitlement to a broad and balanced curriculum. Spoken Language provides the children with the opportunities to develop and extend skills and an opportunity to express their individual interests, thoughts and ideas.


Our aim is to enable the children improve their levels of spoken language so that all pupils are able to communicate effectively and confidently in front of any type of audience.  These skills are encouraged in every area of our curriculum as good communication skills can enhance every type of learning. The children are encouraged to explore ideas through talk; challenge each other’s opinions and develop their own reasoned arguments, as well as talking in full sentences with a clear and confident voice.


Pupils should be taught to:


listen and respond appropriately to adults and their peers

  • ask relevant questions to extend their understanding and build vocabulary and knowledge

  • articulate and justify answers, arguments and opinions

  • give well-structured descriptions and explanations

  • maintain attention and participate actively in collaborative conversations, staying on topic and initiating and responding to comments

  • use spoken language to develop understanding through speculating, hypothesising, imagining and exploring ideas

  • speak audibly and fluently with an increasing command of Standard English

  • participate in discussions, presentations, performances and debates

  • gain, maintain and monitor the interest of the listener(s)

  • consider and evaluate different viewpoints, attending to and building on the contributions of others

  • select and use appropriate registers for effective communication.

  • Spoken language: speaking, listening & responding



The teaching and implementation of the Spoken Language curriculum is based on the Early Learning Goals and National Curriculum; it is supported by expectations from the Voice 21 framework, ensuring a well-structured approach.


These skills are at the core of our curriculum and pupils are encouraged to listen and learn from sharing ideas with others. Staff at Captain Webb model the use of higher level vocabulary within their speech and expanding children’s vocabulary is a key focus in all years. Subject specific vocabulary is embedded across the curriculum, through teacher modelling, in context. Contextual learning helps children to understand new words and supports them in including new vocabulary in their work. This model is reflected in both shared and guided reading sessions, where children are given the chance to explore unfamiliar vocabulary and expand their knowledge of words.


Talk partners are used extensively throughout the school, together with a range of planned learning opportunities that encourage pupils to explore language e.g. role play, drama activities, group discussion, hot seating. In KS2, pupils also take part in class debates.


Drama is used across a range of subjects including History, problem solving in Mathematics, hot-seating during English lessons and Religious Education,. to explore and engage children in their learning. This gives children the chance to embed the use of specific vocabulary repetitively.


At Christmas, EYFS and KS1 children perform their Christmas production to the school while LKS2 produce and lead a production of drama, jokes and songs at Easter. At the end of the academic year, the Year 6 children perform a tailored production to parents and carers. All pupils also perform to their parents once a year in their year group assembly.  


Daily poetry and rhyme and singing sessions are prioritised in EYFS and KS1. All year groups have a core set of poems that the pupils learn off by heart and perform in assemblies.


Our pupils need lots of opportunities to speak and listen. This is especially true of pupils with special educational needs (SEND) and/or pupils with English as an additional language (EAL). Within every day teaching, we use a range of resources to support communication e.g. visuals made with Communication in Print, word banks, sentence stems, speaking frames. Some pupils take part in small group activities (Talk Boost) and some pupils receive additional support e.g. speech and language assistant or therapist.



Constructive formative feedback is provided to pupils regarding their spoken language and listening skills, not only to improve their knowledge and skills but also to establish secure foundations for effective spoken language at primary school right through to secondary education and beyond.

Pupils at Captain Webb Primary School have a wide vocabulary and are confident speakers.  They enjoy talking amongst peers and to adults in school and demonstrate excellent listening skills.

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