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The human voice is amazing and the ability to use it effectively is a superpower! 


Oracy - the art of speaking - is an important part of our curriculum at Uckfield College. Did you know that the human voice is virtually unique? It’s an important part of our identities!


Speaking well enables students to:

  • express themselves clearly: a vital skill for education and for life!
  • understand, process and embed new concepts and knowledge.
  • build their self-esteem and confidence, aiding their wellbeing. If students can be supported by school to talk with purpose and confidence, they are more likely to achieve, feel fulfilled and be happy.
  • combat frustration and embarrassment.
  • achieve social mobility (inarticulacy is one of the greatest barriers to this).


We strive to develop clear, articulate, speakers who can make points, argue their cases, listen carefully to each other, build on the ideas of others and respectfully debate and disagree when they need to.

In our classrooms, we believe we should value every voice (not just the loudest!) Teachers use teaching strategies that facilitate all students participating in speaking activities, even if they lack confidence at first. We encourage students to express their ideas fully, developing and extending their ideas when they speak and using subject-specific vocabulary.

During their time at Uckfield College, students will have many and varied opportunities to develop their oracy skills during lessons through paired talk, group discussions and debates, presentations and more. The PDT programme includes regular discussions on news-related topics. They will also take part in specially-designed public speaking days, which support them to produce fantastic speeches and coach them on how to deliver these in an impactful manner. They may even get the chance to lead a year group Assembly!


We also have numerous super curricular opportunities in speaking and debating at Uckfield College. Students can join Debating Club, where they will debate big, thought-provoking ideas and questions and may have the opportunity to enter national public speaking and debating competitions, such at the English-Speaking Union’s School’s Mace or Churchill Public Speaking Competition. In 2023, our team of Year 10 students got through several rounds of the Churchill Public Speaking Competition to the Regional Final, held at Dartmouth House in London. Young people are the voices of the future, and we strive to give our students the opportunity to make their voices heard.


Another public speaking opportunity for our students is the Speak Out Challenge. Each year, this starts with a workshop, delivered by an expert trainer from the Speakers Trust, who aims to support students through the course of a day towards becoming more confident speakers. Last year, sixty of our Year 10 students benefited from this experience, with several going on to take part in the Speak Out Challenge competition (first an in-school competition, with students delivering a speech in front of their year group in assembly; then an inter-schools competition). In June, the Sussex final was held at Uckfield College, with students from several local schools competing against each other.

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By the time our students leave Uckfield College, we aim for them to have become confident, purposeful and inspired speakers.


What can parents and carers do to support their children with Oracy?

Parents and carers play an important role in helping students develop their Oracy skills. Here are just a few examples:

  • Encourage your child to discuss and debate issues with you at home, so that they hear different opinions, develop their own viewpoint, and practise having their say on topics they are interested in. This can be anything from something on the news, to a sport result, to their news literacy topic from PDT that fortnight.
  • If your child is revising using flash cards, play a game in which you pick one and challenge them to verbalise 3 key things about that topic in clear sentences with you checking against the other side of the card.
  • If your child is going to be giving a presentation, let them practise with you and be a friendly, supportive ear. Are they clear? Is their talk organised and easy to follow? Are they speaking in a way that is appropriately formal?
  • Play word games that include talking like Taboo, Articulate and Just A Minute, which involve lots of describing and explaining!
  • Reinforce rules about respectful listening and not interrupting and explain why those are important life skills.