Measuring the difference I CAN’s Secondary Talk makes

At the end of another year of Secondary Talk – I CAN’s programme which changes practice in secondary schools to support students’ communication and language – we have been inspired by what has been happening in schools. Sitting as part of the validation panel for the programme, I have been privileged to hear of exciting developments, but in particular of the innovative ways that schools have been able to show the impact; the ways they measure change.

Given how difficult it can be to show the impact of focusing on young people’s communication, it’s been great to see measurable differences in how students engage with learning and the progress they make – and to see the differences in classroom practice.

  • One school included different aspects of good language and communication in their marking scheme for students e.g. advanced use of vocabulary. They then monitored the scores in relation to this and linked pupils’ use of new word meanings with overall progress.
  • Another school linked school merit points with aspect of good communication such as ‘asking questions’. This enabled the staff to get quantitative data about improvements in communication, as well as raising the profile of good communication amongst pupils.
  • Building in a focus on language and communication into the leadership observation schedule meant that in one school they were able to show that after Secondary Talk an increased percentage of lessons contained strategies, activities or approaches which enhanced students’ communication.

Secondary Talk requires schools to not only introduce new approaches, but also measure the impact of these. It encourages schools to see that this is about enhancing what they do anyway, not an additional, burdensome activity. Many schools report that this has really helped them to make the link between good language and communication and improved school performance – and to ‘sell’ the approaches to colleagues.

‘There has been an outstanding 53% drop in behaviour incidents recorded for students [with SLCN] compared with the previous academic year.’

‘KS4 students [with SLCN] have achieved C-D in practical GCSE subjects.. ….. The Assistant Head considers that there is a direct correlation between this unprecedented progress and Secondary Talk.’

One school audited ‘teacher talk’ before and after, focusing on pause time, simplifying language and slowing down. In staff feedback, the ‘majority noted instant impact on learning and engagement’

An independent evaluation of the pilot of Secondary Talk found it to have a significant impact on classroom practice. As you can see above, schools are also reporting a huge impact on pupils’ learning and engagement.

We are currently carrying out more robust independent evaluation of this impact and are looking for a school to help us with this. If your school is interested in being involved, we are able to offer the programme at a much reduced cost of £1,000. Please get in touch – click here for more information.