Supporting Pupil Communication Skills

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Andrew Lochery

Andrew has been involved in education since qualifying as a science teacher in 2005. He has taught science, specialising in chemistry and physics, to students across the KS2 to KS5 range. In 2008 he set up Green APLEducation Ltd ( developing useful science teaching resources....
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Why is good pupil communication important?

Communication is a key skill that we need to help develop in all pupils.  It is important to help young people to become comfortable in expressing themselves. As teachers, we know the importance of being able to communicate effectively with other people.

Helping pupils develop key skills is vital for their future and society’s general success. An all-round education needs to place more importance on developing skills, not just successfully learning knowledge and passing examinations. One of these key skills that we need young people to develop is strong communication skills.

Supporting pupils with communication

There are various ways to improve communication skills in younger people, such as:

  1. Modelling good communication. Speak clearly, listen carefully and express your ideas and thoughts at an appropriate level to engage with your audience.
  2. Giving them many opportunities to practise. Provide different contexts to develop communications skills like presentations, class debates and group discussions.
  3. Provide feedback on their performance. Take the time to explain the good aspects of their communication and areas they could improve.
  4. Encouraging self-reflection. The pupils should analyse their performance in communication tasks and develop a better understanding of their strengths and weaknesses.

Helping the teacher

Teachers can improve their communication, says Dan Hallworth in this Teacher Toolkit blog If we can consistently demonstrate good communication to our pupils, then they will see how it can be the difference between another person understanding or not.

We set the tone through our attitude towards others, our approach to different situations and the subtle non-verbal cues we give off. We all know positive people, those who listen carefully and ask considered questions, making us feel comfortable and valued. Those are the people we are more likely to seek out for help and assistance. It is the same for pupils. Sometimes a supportive friend or colleague can be the difference between coping with a situation or becoming completely overwhelmed.

Watch the professionals

Show the pupils some interesting TED talks to demonstrate examples of good communication. They are usually very clear, concise and interesting.

Another effective method is to find good communication examples in areas of interest so that pupils are highly engaged, such as sports. Watching live high-level sports, without a large crowd, really gives a good clue as to how important communication is between players. During the Covid pandemic, for quite a long period, Premier League games were played in empty stadiums with no crowds. The absence of supporters brought a much changed atmosphere and perhaps many of the games lacked the passion and drama which is usually associated, but when watching on the television, you heard the constant communication all over the pitch. It was fascinating and something you never really appreciate in the presence of a crowd.

The future

Communication skills are among the most desirable skills that almost all employers look for in their potential employees. No matter which profession or job they decide to pursue in the future, being able to communicate confidently and effectively is crucial.

Spending time helping pupils develop these skills is a fantastic gift for their future and their chances of developing a successful life.

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