At Stoke Park School, Communication Skills underpin our curriculum, both in each subject's powerful knowledge and in the application of that knowledge in a range of contexts. Vocabulary acquisition, reading and oracy are three interconnected and vital aspects of literacy needed for students to be able to both access and excel across the curriculum. Not only this, but these key communication skills are essential for students to be successful adults in the wider world. We want our students to feel empowered that they can articulate their ideas and feelings, as well as be understood by those they come into contact with.
For many students, the curriculum can become a puzzle they struggle to solve, or a door which is locked to only those fortunate enough to possess the key. This may be because these students lack the requisite background knowledge to make links and appreciate the core concepts of what they encounter, or they face barriers in their own literacy which can make the curriculum feel like a labyrinth they can never find the end to. At Stoke Park, we don't believe in this hermetic approach to curriculum. Rather, we believe that the explicit teaching and metacognition of these communication skills within each subject helps students to unlock the door and navigate the curriculum, with both clarity and curiosity.
The explicit teaching of vocabulary is a critical part of communication skills across all subjects. At Stoke Park, we know it is not enough for students to merely know that a new word is a key word, but rather students need to actively engage in thinking about the word in order to truly assimilate it into their own vocabulary usage. Using etymology (the stories of where words come from) and morphology (what individual word parts mean), students are able to create word webs and make links between the vocabulary they are learning at that moment, with other connected vocabulary in that subject, as well as in others. This increases the stickability of this vocabulary and makes it more transferable across the whole of the curriculum.
Through the explicit teaching of vocabulary, students are far better prepared to read widely and meaningfully within each subject. We encourage students to encounter and explore a wide range of texts from across time periods, text types, genres, and purposes. All the research points to the same conclusion- that reading is the bedrock of success, both academically and in the wider world. Therefore, we offer our students the opportunity to engage with reading routinely and with a critical eye. We also recognise that some students face barriers when reading. Through employing a range of reading strategies across subjects, we aim to provide structure for reading, as well as develop student confidence and skillset when meeting a new text.
With the new vocabulary acquired and the benefits of reading widely, oracy is a crucial communication skill to pull together the threads of students' learning. Oracy encourages students to articulate their views critically and evaluatively, taking on board their reading, as well as others' opinions, to develop arguments around their learning. Our students debate passionately, and question relentlessly. They listen to others' sensitively and critically, demonstrating an ability to adapt in their approach when needed. Oracy provides the perfect steppingstone to being able to write their ideas with clarity and fluency.