This is my last blog post as I’m leaving Noisy Classroom and going to join the Researchers in Schools Team at The Brilliant Club.
As my time with Noisy Classroom draws to a close, I’ve been reflecting on what I’ve experienced and learned as Head of Programmes.
I first worked for Noisy Classroom part-time as a mentor, running the Hackney Primary Debate Challenge, in 2015. After my Masters degree, I joined the team full time as Head of Programmes in 2016.
Over the last few years I’ve had the opportunity to work on some wonderful projects and work with some fantastic schools, teachers, and students. I wanted to use this blog post to reflect on what we’ve achieved and what I’ve learned over the past few years.
- The growth of oracy
Oracy seems to be going from strength to strength. Alongside Noisy Classroom, organisations like Voice21 and The English-Speaking Union are doing great work pushing forward the oracy agenda and convincing teachers and politicians alike that oracy needs to be a central part of every classroom.
Apart from a few confusions on how it is pronounced (soft ‘O’ or hard ‘O’?!), it seems like so many teachers are now excited about oracy and want to help their students become better listeners, more confident speakers, and critical thinkers.
While it is hard to predict the future, I do think oracy is here to stay. As jobs and work will change and adapt alongside the climate crisis and changes in technology, there will be an ever increasing need for adults to be able to really communicate with one another.
Remember, the oracy APPG are still collecting video submissions until January, so if you also care about oracy and want politicians to care too, please take out your phone and record a quick video. To find out more visit www.oracyappg.org.uk.
2. The growth of debate
Every year it seems like more and more schools are setting up debating clubs, entering competitions, introducing new students to this weird and wonderful activity.
There are more competitions and more opportunities for students to learn all about debating. Similarly, through programmes like Up For Debate (which we run with PiXL), teachers are now becoming open about debating being something for the classroom, not just an after-school activity.
3. Oracy and debating mean something different to everyone (and every school)
One of the best parts of working for Noisy Classroom has been the opportunity to travel around the UK (and occasionally further afield) and work with a wide range of people, from all sorts of schools and organisations.
Just as no two schools are alike, so, it seems, no two people would define oracy and debating in the same way.
For some, oracy is important because it allows students to become better public speakers, and to build up their pronunciation and diction. For others, oracy is a way of unlocking students’ thinking and allowing them to learn from one another.
Similarly, some schools use debating as a way to push their brightest students, whereas others see it a way of allowing those who might struggle with written work to shine in another arena.
4. Why I believe debating and oracy are so important
Debating gave me a huge amount of opportunities when I was still at school. Through debating I travelled the world, met some amazing people, and was able to think through a whole range of interesting and complicated issues.
Being able to listen to others, and to make them listen to you, is an incredibly important skill and one that I think all young people should have a chance to develop.
Whatever your thoughts on the current political climate, it is clear that discussion between different groups is getting worse and worse. We need young people who are confident, considerate and articulate, so they can challenge the status quo and demand that their politicians actually take part in discussions, rather than just blaring out sound bites.
Noisy Classroom, it has been an absolute pleasure.