English Spoken Language

Spoken Language

Valued – Inspired – Prepared

Westhaven School is a unique learning environment with high expectations for learners who experience barriers to learning for a range of reasons. We promote a calm environment which enables everyone to learn. The golden thread that permeates our curriculum and our conduct through every school day are the core values which shape our learners to be:

  • safely independent
  • confident communicators
  • respectful citizens
  • resilient learners
  • inquisitive thinkers

The Westhaven Way is our ethos and it underpins our daily approach to behaviour and learning.

Spoken Language Curriculum
(Click to open the Curriculum Map)

Spoken Language at Westhaven

We recognise that the ability to interpret the world and communicate effectively is a key feature of the English curriculum and the whole curriculum. We believe that learners should be equipped with the correct knowledge and vocabulary to engage in conversations. This may be aided with visual word maps/objects and pre teaching vocabulary. We believe that learners should have the opportunities to practice the skills of both a speaker and a listener.  

The golden thread that permeates our curriculum and our conduct through every school day are the core values which shape our learners to be:

  • safely independent – English is all around us and will unlock many areas in life. From accessing bills to enjoying a good book. Being able to interpret the written word/signs and symbols allows humans to communicate independently. 
  • confident communicators – English helps individuals to express themselves in the most effective way. Your thoughts, feelings and knowledge should be passed on in a most desirable manner and effective communication with English helps you.
  • respectful citizens – English and reading exposes us to many different cultures and ways of life which we begin to understand through discussion. The spoken word allows us to communicate and this is the most important element of human connection. Therefore promoting citizenship and respect.
  • resilient learners – Speaking, reading and writing are never easy to learn.  There are many obstacles which need to be overcome and resilience  is a valuable life lesson and one that we hold in high regard at Westhaven.      
  • inquisitive thinkers – Showing curiosity and asking questions is an essential part of learning and life. Acquiring new knowledge and to learn the explanation of things even when the learning is not immediately apparent. It motivates you to discover truths. 

How spoken language weaves into everyday life at Westhaven

Speaking and listening is woven into everyday life at Westhaven. Communication is essential to life and at Westhaven we strive for every aspect to help promote a learner’s understanding and their ability to communicate effectively. This could be from simply asking for a particular meal choice at lunch to group discussions and debates. At Westhaven the learners are at the heart of everything we do. Every member of staff interacts with the learners and therefore is able to help scaffold and promote communication and spoken language. From September 2023 assemblies will take place twice a week. This is a perfect opportunity for learners to listen and have opportunities to speak in front of others, learners are asked to reflect on their learning from the week and class assemblies are carried out through the year.

Our approach to teaching Spoken Language

Every class at Westhaven has designated Spoken Language lessons. The areas that these lessons focus on are on our English curriculum which is broken down further into a scheme of work. Our younger learners start with listening and responding and role play. This playful approach is a great way for the adults to model conversations and scaffold vocabulary and listening skills. Our older learners participate in debates, discussions and presentations. Throughout our curriculum at Westhaven there are opportunities for spoken language to be modeled and taught. These are carefully planned by our teachers.

Voice 21 School

From September 2023 Westhaven will be taking part in Voice 21. Voice 21’s mission is to transform the learning and life chances of young people through talk so that all children can use their voice for success in school and in life.  Why does oracy matter? A high-quality oracy education is vital to not only improve academic outcomes of students but also to foster their confidence and wellbeing.

Home-school partnership

We are always keen in our drive to involve parents in all elements of our reading offer as we recognise that a strong home-school partnership, with shared reading values, is an essential factor in every learner’s successful reading development. We ask families to support our reading aims and vision by reading, talking about and enjoying books with their child, at least three times a week. In order to achieve this, we offer phonics and reading workshops as well as support links on our website to enable families to confidently support their children with reading at home, as well as providing high quality books for the learners to take home and enjoy with their families.

Explicit vocabulary teaching

The teaching of vocabulary at Westhaven is a vital part of our pedagogy. We aim to broaden learner’s vocabulary knowledge to enable them to be successful at school and beyond. 

The explicit teaching of vocabulary is key to supporting learner’s reading. The teaching of vocabulary may happen incidentally through class discussions and class texts but we know the teaching of vocabulary explicitly is far more valuable. This ensures all learners are exposed to the same, high-quality vocabulary and helps us to increase learners’ wealth of words. Subject specific vocabulary is sequenced on schemes of learning by subject leaders and are taught during those lessons. We provide word maps for each subject to aid a child’s understanding of the new vocabulary. 

We introduce a new word into our learners’ vocabulary each week (“Word of the Week”), and share the application of this word in our celebration assemblies. We then revisit these words regularly to ensure retrieval practice.

What Ofsted says

Developing spoken language, including vocabulary, is essential for the academic progress of all children. This is because broad underpinning knowledge, such as of vocabulary and syntax, supports later reading success.

“Communication leads to community, that is, to understanding, intimacy and mutual valuing.” — Rollo Reece May.