Extension of remote assessments for UK Speech and Language qualifications until the end of term

Emma Hardy MP meets ESB’s Chief Executive and Trustees

The value of offering assessment as part of learners’ oracy journeys was discussed at a meeting between Emma Hardy MP, Chair of the Oracy All Party Parliamentary Group and Tina Renshaw, English Speaking Board’s Chief Executive, this week.  

Following on from submitting ESB’s written evidence to the Oracy APPG, Tina Renshaw was delighted to take the opportunity to meet with the Chair to showcase the benefits of ESB’s unique assessment methodology as part of the larger debate on Oracy.

Joining the meeting were two Trustees of ESB, bringing their perspectives as educational practitioners of providing oracy assessments in disadvantaged areas of the UK.  They were Avril Newman, Headteacher of London’s Sir William Borough Primary School, a state primary school serving the local communities of Tower Hamlets and Julia Ward, Managing Director of the South West’s Articulacy.  

Tina says: “We offer our learners fantastic confidence building experiences to demonstrate the skills that they’ve developed in speaking and listening or oracy, and we do this through assessment. For many learners to have an adult (our assessor) listen to them, to what they have to say and to how they listen to their peers, to acknowledge and reward their work and effort is a singular and affirming experience.

“ESB is an exciting opportunity and there’s not many times when learners come out of an assessment and say, ‘Can I do that again please?’. Our learners do, not because they thought they have done it wrong, but because they loved it! So, we believe it is a unique contribution in improving learners’ oracy skills.

“To really understand the value of ESB’s assessment methodology, you need to see it; to hear about the confidence that assessments bring, the enjoyment of actually participating in the assessment and the validation to so many learners that they have achieved!” 

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Sir William Burrough Primary School’s “You Can Do It” programme keeps pupils’ levels of confidence and resilience high, something ESB strongly supports. Its classrooms are consistently alive with energy, passion and inspiration. The school has been completing ESB assessments for many years as it recognises the improvement in its pupils’ self-confidence and communication skills. 

Says Avril: “ESB assessments have been a great gift to our school. They give our pupils a structure and purpose and help them to find their voice.   

“The speeches that my learners complete as part of their ESB assessment are very close to the heart and the culture of the community that I serve. They have the most enchanting experience with an ESB assessor and they then feel a sense of achievement when they receive a certificate at the end of it. Do not underestimate the joy of that golden ticket that those children take home, that they can share and display, that their families in overcrowded, intergenerational, non-English speaking homes have enormous pride in.” 

Watch the video below demonstrating the positive experience that ESB assessments bring from start to finish at Avril’s school.

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Our assessment methodology aims are to build confidence, focus on the interactivity of communication and the personal development it creates. ESB’s assessments give agency to the learners; it is for them to choose their subjects upon which to prepare and be assessed. We externally assess 12-14,000 learners a year, counting amongst our centres award winning special education providers, schools in opportunity areas and the third sector with charities. Our focus is not one of performance but communication – speaking, listening, preparing the learner to take their place in society as a worker and citizen. For social mobility, we as citizens should be equipped to inform, instruct, draw out from others, explain, question, interpret, listen, disagree and advise. 

As one of ESB’s centres, Articulacy specialises in offering workshops, particularly as a vehicle for social mobility that build confidence and raise self-esteem through spoken English. By incorporating ESB into their workshops, learners are awarded with an accredited qualification at the end of their training, giving them a sense of achievement and evidence of their progression.  

Julia says: “Our students thoroughly enjoy completing ESB assessments and are proud to gain a qualification that provides them with valuable skills that will last them a lifetime! The team behind Articulacy share a similar ethos to ESB and believe that ESB assessments help equip people with great oracy skills allowing them to communicate, both professionally and personally, with confidence.” 

Tina adds: “ESB is proud to be part of the Oracy APPG’s inquiry championing the value of good speaking and listening skills and the need for oracy to be reflected in educational policy making and curriculum development. It’s fantastic to see that oracy is starting to be recognised as a priority in education! Emma Hardy has invited me to be part of one of the next APPG panels and so we will have more opportunities to advocate the place of our unique assessments as being a valid pathway of promoting oracy in our schools.” 

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