Graded Examinations in Speech – Primary Level

Our Graded Examinations in Speech are designed to help learners to flourish in their ability to communicate with confidence, to feel that their voice is important, and to enjoy speaking with and in front of others.

Just as literacy and numeracy are important foundations for reading, writing and maths; oracy is a vital foundation for successful speaking, listening and communication.


Our ESB Awards in Speech provide opportunities for learners to develop their speaking, listening and learning skills through a range of assessment activities across four sections. Here are a sample of these activities from across our qualification range for Primary level. Please see our specifications for more detail, which are available on our Resources pages.

Section 1: Talk

  • Pre-Entry Level: Something Special – learners bring in and show listeners a favourite toy or item and tell them about it.
  • Entry Level 3: Explaining How – learners talk about something they have achieved, made, grown or learned about. They should support their talk by using a relevant visual aid.

Section 2: Speaking by heart

  • Entry Level 1: learners begin by giving the title of their chosen poem, the poet’s name, and why they like it. They should then recite the poem, sharing the content with the group and the assessor.
  • Level 1 (Grade 1): Learners begin by introducing their choice of poem or piece of drama, explaining what it means to them. They then present their memorised piece, sharing the content with group and assessor.

Section 3: Reading aloud

  • Pre-Entry Level: learners begin by saying the title of their chosen book and the author’s name. They should then read a prepared passage of approximately 100 words from this story.
  • Entry Level 2: learners should prepare 4-5 pages (containing dialogue) of a book, from which the assessor will choose an extract to be read aloud. They must also introduce the book, stating which character they would like to talk to.

Section 4: Listening and responding

  • Learners answer questions from the group and and the assessor after any section. They should also participate in group discussion, joining in with comments and questions.


ESB is an extremely beneficial experience. The children gain confidence and it is evident they make a great amount of progress when comparing their abilities from the start to completion of the assessment.

Lorraine Newton, St Joseph’s Catholic Academy

Many of our learners are new to English, so ESB assessments have been about building their English Skills. Completing ESB assessments has been a wonderful experience for them.

Jo Healey, St Marks CE Primary School

Learner Focused

Our assessments are developed with learners’ interests at heart and are carried out in groups, so the learners can support each other and feel comfortable as they speak and listen together.

Fantastic Assessors

From the moment our team of skilled assessors meet your learners, they will feel encouraged, supported and assured that their work will be appreciated. Our assessors come from all walks of life but share a common aim to bring out the best in every learner and are sympathetic to each learner’s situation and background. Their input is an invaluable part the ESB experience, as they really put your learners at ease and make the experience.

Our assessors are trained and standardised annually, and moderated regularly to ensure that their marking is consistent and they bring a passion for ESB International’s core values of providing enjoyable assessments.


Here at ESB, the learner is not a performer of studied pieces, but a person taking their place in society as an active citizen. We not only assess what the young person knows or says, but what they have become. Below are just some of the benefits of ESB Speech qualifications (for further examples, see the ‘Four Sections‘ page in the relevant qualification specification pages, available on our Resources pages).


  • present information succinctly
  • carefully select vocabulary to impart their message
  • utilise a range of tier 1, 2 and 3 vocabularies
  • increase learners agency by taking ownership of their own learning

Speaking by heart

  • express emotion through another’s words, connect and empathise
  • explore different forms of creative language
  • practise memory and recall techniques
  • develop vocabulary through committing poetry to memory
  • speak from memory, allowing learners to focus on the rhythm, cadence and subtleties of language

Reading aloud

  • encourage reading for pleasure
  • rehearse a piece of text to be read aloud, build confidence, and develop a natural reading rhythm and fluency
  • being able to rehearse, practise, and prepare a reading can allow nervous readers to feel less anxious

Questions and answers

  • develop higher-order questioning and thinking skills
  • learn more about peers and gain appreciation and respect for their points of view
  • build turn-taking and discussion skills
  • autonomy of choice in each section encourages reluctant speakers to feel ownership of their material and gain confidence in their responses

What happens next?