Literacy & Oracy

Oracy and Public Speaking

We are passionate about developing confident and competent public speakers at OSSMA.

The things we say and how we say them can inform, influence, inspire and motivate others and express our empathy, understanding and creativity. It is our ability to communicate that enables us to build positive relationships, collaborate for common purpose, deliberate and share our ideas as citizens. It is through speaking and listening that we develop our views, apply knowledge and extend our capacity to think critically. These skills are needed today more than ever before. Yet, while schools devote hundreds of hours of teaching time and teacher expertise to the development of pupils’ writing and reading skills, barely any time is spent developing the vital verbal communication skills we all need to succeed in work and life.

Our students are encouraged to converse and construct arguments persuasively. The Academy encourages students, as soon as they join us, to learn how to do this confidently and precisely through our Family Lunch and Family Breakfast programmes and through discreet lessons where appropriate. The Academy wants to build confident students who can speak publically as this is a vital life skill. Students have the opportunity to do this from their first day in school through Family Lunch/Breakfast, whole class reading, and a variety of speaking competitions. ALL students speak publically at various points in their Academy life.


The average student requires a reading age of 15 years and 3 months to access and understand their GCSE examinations. The average reading age for students taking their GCSE exams is 10 years of age. A study by Hart and Risley* found that the average number of words a child growing up in a professional family is exposed to is 46 million, a child from a working class family on average is exposed to 26 million whereas a child growing up in a family receiving welfare support on average is exposed to just 13 million words.

At OSSMA we prioritise the importance of vocabulary and see it as our duty to narrow the vocabulary gap for our young people, and as 90% of all words are encountered whilst reading**, we prioritise reading. Whole class reading takes place every day for 15 minutes with all students in a year group reading the same challenging text, and then given the opportunity to discuss and reflect on how that text embraces the Subject themes taking place alongside it, or the academy values that the text promotes. A Year 7 student will leave OSSMA having read and studied at a minimum of 23 ambitious works of Literature.

*Hart & Risley, ‘Meaningful differences in the everyday experience of young American children’.

** Stanovich, ‘Does reading make you smarter? Literacy and the development of verbal intelligence’

Daily Vocabulary Diet
WOW word

(word of the week)

Ambitious word linked to either academy values, current affairs, thematic topics or specific staff request following formative assessment. The WOW word is shared on a Monday in form time and is revisited throughout the week and displayed throughout the school media system.
Key Word Quiz Quest Key words from core knowledge related to the subject blocks being studied at that point. Students are given 5 key words from a variety of subjects, with definitions. Students revisit these during the week and are then quizzed at the end of the week and the end of the knowledge block for understanding.
DEAR time vocabulary Ambitious vocabulary from the text with definitions and often linked to the context of the DEAR novel. Key words displayed with definitions on a board whilst DEAR time is taking place, enabling students and staff to discuss their meaning and contextual importance, in order to enhance their vocabulary.

WOW word of the week


The process of knowing, thinking and perceiving.


Latin ‘cognoscere’ meaning ‘recognising knowledge’ or the ‘coming together of knowledge’

Example in context:
The cognitive oracy strand is the thought process and knowledge that underpins speaking and listening.