Skip to content

We use necessary cookies that allow our site to work. We also set optional cookies that help us improve our website.

For more information about the types of cookies we use, and to manage your preferences, visit our Cookies policy here.

Cookie settings

Secondary conference 2024

Secondary Conference 2023 presentation

Oracy Matters

Monday 1 July 2024, 9:20-3:30

The Lowry, Pier 8, The Quays, Salford, Manchester M50 3AZ

The ability to communicate effectively promotes social mobility and drives social justice.

This conference looks at why oracy matters - how spoken language skills and the ability to listen impacts on academic success, employment,  well-being and our sense of self.


The ticket cost to attend the conference is £150 per person.

Ticket price

£150 Early bird - book before 24 May 2024

£175 General admission

What you can expect from this conference

  • Hear from diverse, expert voices

    Including keynotes from Emeritus Professor of Education at the University of Cambridge and Director of Oracy Cambridge, Neil Mercer, and T.S. Eliot award-winning poet Joelle Taylor

  • Participate in a wide choice of workshops

    Featuring a range of presentations by the National Literacy Trust, Shakespeare North Playhouse, The Lowry and many more

Keynote speakers

Neil Mercer

Emeritus Professor Neil Mercer

Emeritus Professor of Education at the University of Cambridge and Director of Oracy Cambridge

Neil Mercer is Emeritus Professor of Education at the University of Cambridge, Director of Oracy Cambridge: the Hughes Hall Centre for Effective Spoken Communication, a Life Fellow of the Cambridge college Hughes Hall, an Associate Fellow of the British Psychological Society. Before he joined Cambridge, he was Professor of Language and Communications at the Open University. As a psychologist whose research has focused on the development of children’s spoken language and reasoning abilities and teachers’ role in that development, he has worked extensively and internationally with teachers, researchers and educational policy makers.

Joelle Taylor

Joelle Taylor

T.S. Eliot award-winning poet

Joelle Taylor is the author of four collections of poetry and is an experienced lecturer and facilitator. She is a Poetry Fellow at the University of East Anglia and has led classes in universities, secondary schools, prisons, refugee centres and youth centres, and for organisations including the Poetry Society, British Council, Arvon Foundation and English PEN. In 2001 Joelle established SLAMbassadors, the UK National Youth Slams which she led for 18 years. She was awarded a Southbank Centre Change-Maker prize in 2017, in recognition of her work in poetry education. Her novel of interconnecting stories The Night Alphabet was published by Riverrun in February 2024.

Guest speakers

Evonne Bixter

Evonne Bixter

Head of Engagement at Shakespeare North Playhouse

Evonne will discuss how the theatre uses Shakespeare and creativity to explore a variety of topics across the curriculum. She will focus on how creative process has wide-reaching benefits to literacy, including oracy skills and nurtures metacognition and resilience.

David Scott

David Scott

BBC Radio Manchester presenter, poet, author and podcaster

From working with schools, young people in custody, youth organisations and collaborating with Manchester United and the Lionesses, David's career is a testament to the universal power of words as a tool for collective and personal transformation. His work draws on what he describes as his own experience of being part of a "lost generation of working-class youths" and how he defied expectations by pursuing a career in the arts.

Which workshops are available?

Delegates at the Secondary Conference can choose to attend three workshops. No prior booking for workshops is required. Resources from all nine workshops will be made electronically available to delegates after the conference.

Familiarise yourself with each of the available workshops in our quick summaries below.

Why listen? Engaging young people through audio

  • Emily Best: Knowledge and Insight Manager, National Literacy Trust

In 2023, the National Literacy Trust found that children and young people as old as 18 still enjoyed hearing stories told or read to them, and that listening to audio is increasing in popularity. This session will explore how to capture this enthusiasm among young listeners to promote and encourage storytelling in all its forms.

Supporting young peoples’ understanding and use of language

  • Fiona Taylor: Principal Speech and Language Therapist/Service Lead, Children’s Services, Salford Care Organisation

This interactive workshop aims to develop awareness about the link between speech, language and communication needs and behaviour. Fiona will discuss how these difficulties may present within young people and the impact upon them academically and socially as well as sharing strategies to support young people’s understanding and use of language.

Oracy: A tool for cross-curricular creativity

  • Workshop facilitated by the Shakespeare North Playhouse

Join Shakespeare North Playhouse for a practical workshop demonstrating techniques to encourage discussion and debate in the classroom, supporting students to develop metacognition and oracy skills. From Religious Studies to History, English Literature to Visual Art, this approach can be used across the curriculum to enhance literacy levels and foster a love of learning.

Arts for wellbeing

This imaginative session provides an opportunity to take a breath and discover creative well-being with practical and mindful art activities that could be replicated in schools.

Unlocking the power of voice: Empowering girls who have been excluded or are at risk of exclusion

  • Kirsty Bailey: Senior Project Manager for Alternative Provision, National Literacy Trust

This immersive workshop invites you to experience activities integral to the National Literacy Trusts’ free Represent programme aimed at 11-14 year old girls who have been excluded or are at risk of exclusion. Through scaffolded oracy activities and thoughtfully curated texts, this programme serves as a catalyst for empowering girls to discover and amplify their voices.

Teacher self-articulation through poetic inquiry

  • Victoria Ekepo: Lecturer in Secondary English Education, Edgehill University

Showcasing a project that won the British Educational Research Association 2022 best paper award, this poetic inquiry workshop provides an opportunity for teachers to re-engage with why they became teachers, how their work has shaped the person they are and how this technique can be used with students to help them articulate themselves.

Let’s talk about numbers

  • Foundation 92: Official Charity Partner of Salford City F.C.
  • James Boyd: Sports and Literacy Project Manager, National Literacy Trust

Join an interactive workshop that showcases the collaboration between Foundation ’92 and the National Literacy Trust on a financial literacy programme Words that Count that has oracy at its core. Find out how to explore financial topics in a fun and interactive way. Be prepared for some physical activity!

Libraries and literacy in secondary schools

  • Rachel Hockey: Library Resource Manager, Chorlton High School, Manchester
  • Margaret Duff and Cheryl Pridgeon : National Literacy Trust Hub Mangers, Read Manchester

Rachel Hockey is the Library Resource Manager at Chorlton High School in Manchester and has extensive experience of working with pupils to support their literacy. The session will look at how the work of libraries and Read Manchester intersects with, supports and complements literacy in schools to encourage reading for pleasure and literacy programmes in Manchester.

Bringing stories to life

  • Charlotte Malik - National Literacy Trust Hub Manager, Nottingham
  • Kyle Turakhia - National Literacy Trust Hub Manager, Birmingham

Over the past three years, the National Literacy Trust has helped to develop Story Valley; an innovative, creative literacy resource for secondary schools. Join Charlotte and Kyle as they introduce this Erasmus-funded, storytelling resource available free for all secondary schools.

Book your ticket below