Oracy is to speech what literacy is to writing


Oracy is how we communicate by speaking and listening. It is also how we learn, through talking to others.

Many young people who have social, emotional and mental health needs (SEMH), also have speech, language and communication needs (SLCN), i.e. oracy needs. These needs often go unrecognised because behaviour can mask the difficulties with communication.

Jane Richards is our Speech and Language Therapist. She assesses all students as part of their induction at Bowden House and closely monitors their progress. Approximately 85% of our students have significantly impaired oracy skills when they start at Bowden.

The oracy needs of our students include difficulties with:
• Understanding what others say
• Expressing themselves clearly
• Social skills.
Oracy skills are targeted throughout the day, in all lessons and in care. All of our staff are trained and supported by Jane to develop oracy across the curriculum. She also offers individual and small group speech and language sessions when necessary.
Oracy relates to speaking in the same way that literacy relates to writing and numeracy to maths. At Bowden we see oracy, literacy and numeracy as of equal importance.


Blank, Rose and Berlin (1978) The Blank Language Model

Joffee, V. (2006) Story telling and vocabulary

Leahy and Dodd (2002) Comprehension and expressive language

Mercer, N. (2018) The development of oracy skills in school-aged learners. Part of the Cambridge Papers in ELT series. [pdf] Cambridge: Cambridge University Press

Stringer (2006) Narrative and social skills

Wilkinson, A. (1965)The concept of oracy