This is the first of several blogs I intend to write about oracy in schools. The views are my own but based on the work I carried out in schools in Yorkshire when I was a literacy consultant and a school improvement adviser.
My plea is for schools to be crystal clear about the messages they give to children about talk. It is dangerous to assume everyone feels the same. If there is no shared consensus of opinion or policy then children can be corrected by one member of staff one minute and hear another member of staff using the same talk themselves the next minute. I have seen this happen. What are children to make of it? All staff, including non-teaching staff, governors and also parents need to be clear about the school policy, because if they are confused, then the children will be confused too.
Here are some questions for schools to consider.
What do we mean by standard English and how do we feel about it?
Do all staff understand the difference between accent and dialect?
Do we consider the local accent and dialect something to be proud of or just to be tolerated?
How do we feel about teachers and non teaching staff using the local accent in school?
How do we feel about teachers and non-teaching staff using the local dialect in school?
How do we feel about children using their local accent and dialect in lessons?
Should we insist teachers use standard English during lessons and if so why?
Should teachers use standard English all the time when communicating with children or just in lessons.
Good luck with these questions. I will be sharing more info in my next Blog.