13 May 2022

Image of Summer Term - 16th May 2022

Whole School CPD Focus:

Oracy for Writing

Walkthru Cluster:

Mode B Teaching



Independent Learning: Oracy - Debating




Our CPD focus for this half-term continues to be writing and specifically ‘talk for writing’.  After all, if students cannot articulate their ideas and thoughts then how can they be expected to write about them coherently?  Sherrington’s Walkthru on debating suggests that this approach can deepen a student’s understanding of their learning and can also allow them to engage in structured exchanges of ideas: learning for life.  The ‘soft’ skills here are also demonstrated as students can build confidence and a sensitivity of dealing with alternative perspectives – both crucial skills when entering the next phases of their lives.


So, what are the five steps for embedding this Walkthru?


Stage One: Ensure pre-requisite knowledge is secure

Often, in situations like these, students ‘run out’ of things to say.  Therefore, it is crucial to ensure that the knowledge basis of any debate is taught securely.  Establish parameters for a debate so that the process of debating actually deepens their understanding of their learning. Examples of this might include:

  • Would a nuclear power station or wind farm be a better solution in a given context?
  • Is Macbeth a victim or the author of his own downfall?
  • Is it ever morally acceptable to kill?


Stage two: Model and practise the language of debating

Teach some key phrases that help to frame a debate exchange.  Model them to engage students in practice:

  • I believe that…
  • In our opinion…Firstly…secondly…
  • What’s more; moreover…
  • There are two issues our opponents have failed to address, namely…
  • Our opponents have claimed that…
  • That may be the case, however…
  • To recap the main points...


It is also worth showing students an example of a pre-recorded debate to show them what they are aiming to reproduce.  It may even be worth producing a success criteria or linguistic and non-verbal features.


Stage Three: Teach a simple debate structure

One to one: students debating in pairs, exchanging ideas and practising the language

Team debates: 2 vs 2 or 3 vs 3, each team allocated to propose or oppose a motion, with rehearsal time before the exchanges

Multi-voice: a range of inputs making a case for a different positions or proposals.  Give debaters a role.  Where necessary, introduce a moderator role, to monitor the exchange and keep timings.


Stage Four: Run the debate following the agreed structure

Allow an appropriate amount of preparation and then allow the debates to run.  They can be run simultaneously or by using the rest of a class as an audience.  The success criteria could be used here for listeners to peer-assess performance. It is important to keep time here as students need to learn to work within the discipline of working to a time structure, sharpening their case accordingly.



Stage Five: Review the Content and Process

This is an important stage during and following the debate.  The teacher should provide instructional feedback to:

  • Highlight the key learning points
  • To challenge misconceptions
  • To separate fact from opinion and to allow depth of understanding. 

It is also important to discuss the process of the debate so that lessons can be learned to improve subsequent debate activities and students’ individual contributions.


As we know, the Walkthrus are interlinked and can be worked in with our whole-school priorities.  Why not use a challenging text as the stimulus for a debate – perhaps an article or report – and then ask students to use their Reading Warriors skills to come to their own viewpoint.  From here, they can then springboard into the debating task, with something tangible to provide depth to their argument.


Previous blogs and Walkthrus in this cluster:

  • Applying our CPD to-date (no Walkthru)
  • Collaborative Learning Principles
  • Oracy: Instructional Inputs
  • Oracy: Pre-Reading (flipped learning)




CPD Cascade

National College

Remember that there are subject-specific watchlists available in National College.


Please also remember that the 'Get Ahead' CPD programme was emailed some time ago to be completed by September.  This has been created as a watchlist in The National College for all staff.

Posted by Rachel Long

Category: Teaching and Learning Digests

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