No Pens Day Wednesday is here!
No Pens Day Wednesday is an annual day where schools and early years settings across teh country are encouraged to focus on spoken language skills (also known as oracy). It was organised by the Communication Trust and this year takes place on Wednesday the 25th of November. Why is spoken language so important? Let's find out...
Look at this extract from the National Curriculum statutory requirements on spoken language in Years 1-6:
Pupils should be taught to: listen and respond appropriately to adults and their peers; ask relevant questions to extend their understanding and knowledge; use relevant strategies to build their vocabulary; articulate and justify answers, arguments and opinions; give well-structured descriptions, explanations and narratives for different purposes, including for expressing feelings; maintain attention and participate actively in collaborative conversations, staying on topic and initiating and responding to comments; use spoken language to develop understanding through speculating, hypothesising, imagining and exploring ideas; speak audibly and fluently with an increasing command of Standard English; participate in discussions, presentations, performances, role play, improvisations and debates; gain, maintain and monitor the interest of the listener(s); consider and evaluate different viewpoints, attending to and building on the contributions of others; select and use appropriate registers for effective communication.
Lots of the current National Curriculum is controversial and many people struggle to see the value in fronted adverbials, prefixes and suffixes, homophones, modal verbs and semi-colons. But reading that list of skills it strikes me that every single one of them will prove useful as you navigate your adult life. Spoken language skills are not just fundamental for learning to read and write. They also help us managing emotions and conflict, develop friendships, gain employment, and advocate for ourselves and others. When you start to think about it, it's a bit bonkers that we only prioritise them in schools one day a year, isn't it?
If you are a school and want to get involved, you can visit the ICAN website where they have a huge amount of resources and lesson plans to get you started. There are also loads of resources and activity packs on The Commucation Trust website and on Twinkl. If you've missed the day this year, why not do it another day?
Lucy Pollard - Speech and Language Therapist