Approximate reading time: 2 mins, 30 secs.
If a stranger walked into your school what would be their first
impression? How does your school welcome them?
Perhaps their eye would be drawn to your displays? Where would they see
children working together? How easy would it be for them to identify the places
that encourage children to talk?
The new National Curriculum recognises the need to improve oracy for
all pupils. OFSTED’s survey, Removing Barriers to Literacy, reported
that a common feature of the most successful schools was the attention they
gave to developing speaking and listening. This also led to improved standards
Creating Communication Friendly Spaces
Effective communication friendly spaces give children a reason to talk
as well as offering a place in which to do it.
The best spaces will have:
- A level of intimacy – e.g. a den, tent, large cardboard box
- Lower levels of background noise
- Role play opportunities that encourage dialogue through sharing or
co-operation, e.g. shops or work places, telephone conversations, gardening,
Former Communication Champion, Jean Gross, highlights the importance of
identifying places to talk throughout the school. She suggests carrying out an
audit of your environment to identify areas that are hotspots for encouraging
talking and those which need to be developed to make them more communication
The Elizabeth Jarman Trust has developed a tool-kit called
“Communication Friendly Spaces” which focuses on ‘de-cluttering’ the learning
environment to support children’s listening and speaking skills.
Using The Existing Space To Encourage Communication
Sometimes it’s not about creating new spaces for talking but rather
adapting existing spaces to give children a reason to talk and question. Wall
displays around the school provide an excellent conversation starter for all
Communication Friendly Displays Should:
- Pose questions for pupils, e.g. what’s missing, why is this picture on
- Link to targets in pupils’ work.
- Use topic vocabulary.
- Provide a consistent approach to colour coding or question formats, e.g.
colour coded questions, use of symbols.
- Encourage pupils to look beneath the surface, e.g. lift the flap.
- Be placed at the right level for children to access them easily
Visit our website www.speechlink.info/thelink
to download your copy of The Link’s talk friendly environment audit
where the best talking spaces are in your school.
References: Removing Barriers to Literacy available from
www.ofsted.gov.uk Gross, J. (2013) A Time to Talk: Implementing outstanding
practice in speech, language and communication. Routledge: Oxon
Labels: classroom, classroom displays, communication, listening, speaking, speech and language, Top Tips