Language for Learning

The phrase 'Language for Learning', as opposed to 'literacy', reflects the idea that proficiency in language underpins success in every subject as well in life beyond school, and that it's about so much more than how to use a semi-colon or knowing what a fronted adverbial is. We have split Language for Learning into four key strands, covering using full sentences in speech and writing, modelling the process of writing, acknowledging that keywords are key to understanding, and enabling students to 'bulletproof' their own work.

Improving Literacy in Secondary Schools

Click here to read the full report on literacy provision in Secondaries. Some important summaries to take note of.

Talking debate

This speaking framework is a great tool to help pupils develop the skill to argue and debate. It scaffolds dialogue to enable pupils to express themselves with clarity and justification, a really important 21st century skill. Talking debate

Post it storm

The teacher poses a question for pupils to consider independently. They write their response on a post it note and collate these on the board. Pupils then collect a couple, and discuss, respond, agree or disagree with their peer comments. Post it storm

Group roles

A resource designed to allocate pupils clear roles within group activities to ensure all participate and furthermore develop their oracy/communication skills at the same time. Roles

Talk tasks

Another partner talk strategy using visuals and sentence starters to promote structured dialogue between pupils. Talk tasks

Thinking outside the box

A technique that encourages pupils to initially consider the obvious answers or low tariff responses to a question. Then they are challenged to think ‘outside the box’. For example: greater depth more interesting vocabulary an alternative perspective critical analysis links to other topics. Secondary_MATINSET130319_thinkoutsidebox An alternative strategy is to use this as a partner talk …

A story of…

Sometimes when a skill might be being assessed, the “answer” does not suffice, the journey a pupil takes is key. Pupils clearly outline each step of their approach to a question or answer they have constructed.This forces them to be concise in their explanations. This can be performed both verbally or in a written format and …


A strategy that works to generate ideas separate from discussion. Pupils write first, talk second. Pupils must try to think of all the possible solutions to a question/scenario. This can be done independently (and silently!) either on post it notes, on a template that is handed around or collaboratively using technology such as Keynote or pages. Pupils then …

Socratic Smackdown

This is a great strategy to get pupils to practise developing an argument, either independently or as a group. Pupils can earn points every time they use a strategies. Give pupils a topic, text or issue and a chance to prepare ideas before their discussion or written answer, which is scored by others. Socratic Smackdown discussion example Socratic …

Target language cards/chatty mats

Use these cards to reward children for using target language within MFL lessons or just for subject specific vocabulary. Additionally chatty mats can contain regularly used phrases and sentence starters to help students feel more confident in articulating their learning in class. Target Language cards