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Ely College

Ely College

Ely College awarded prestigious national ‘Centre of Excellence’ award for Oracy

Staff at Ely College, part of Meridian Trust, are proud to have received a coveted Oracy Centre of Excellence award from the national oracy charity, Voice 21, for their work in developing students’ speaking and listening skills.

Voice 21 works with more than 1000 schools nationally, and Ely College was one of only 24 to have their oracy achievements recognised in the most recent round of applications.

The Voice 21 Oracy Centre of Excellence award certifies and celebrates schools that are changing the way they educate by supporting students to find their voice - and as a result, are transforming their learning and life chances. To secure its recognition, Ely College had to demonstrate the quality of oracy education being provided across five areas of school life: their school’s vision, culture, curriculum, learning and impact on students.

A Voice 21 report, shared with the College, states “there is a strong vision for oracy which is held by the whole school community.” This ensures “students have a range of opportunities to develop their voices both inside and outside the classroom and are being supported to enhance their conversational skills with adults.”

Samantha Rasmussen, Oracy Lead and Vice Principal of Ely College said: “Oracy is a vital skill, particularly in our post-pandemic world, and we have seen the incredible difference it can make to the learning and confidence of students at all ages and abilities in our school. We are thrilled to be the only secondary school in the East of England to achieve this award and one of only a handful of secondaries nationally. This has been a significant project for us over the last few years and it’s great to see all our efforts formally recognised.”

As a Voice 21 Oracy Centre of Excellence, Ely College will support other schools in the community and across the country, showcasing how oracy teaching can impact their students’ future education and employment opportunities.

Oracy has been shown to be as important as reading and numeracy in improving life outcomes for children. According to The Skills Imperative 2035, communication and collaboration skills are one of six ‘Essential Employment Skills’.

Simon Warburton, Principal of Ely College said: “We are delighted to have been recognised as an Oracy Centre of Excellence by Voice 21. At Ely College, we are passionate about improving the quality of education and life in Ely to ensure the young adults who leave our care are prepared for the next stage of their education and are ready and confident to move forward as responsible and employable citizens. I am so proud of our Ely College team who have worked incredibly hard to place oracy at the heart of our teaching and learning.”

In its 2021 report ‘Speak for Change’, the Oracy All-Party Parliamentary Group highlighted the importance of oracy education to improve academic performance, underpin literacy and vocabulary, support wellbeing and confidence, and enable young people to access employment and thrive in life beyond school.

Kate Paradine, CEO at Voice 21, says: “I’d like to congratulate Ely College on becoming a Voice 21 Oracy Centre of Excellence. It’s a testament to the innovative and inspirational oracy teaching by staff across the College. This is already having significant impacts on students’ learning, and will be of huge benefit to them as they progress throughout school and in future education and employment opportunities. Ely College is part of the national oracy movement that is transforming the education system and preparing all students to use their voice to succeed in school and in life.”

For more information about Ely College and Bishop Laney Sixth Form, please visit: