A key question regarding speaking is:

  • How will you include as many of the pupils in speaking as possible?

Research suggests that out of the total time spent speaking during a workshop or lesson, the proportions should be:

  • 80% pupil talk
  • 20% leader talk

This may seem surprising. And obviously this can seem difficult in museum and gallery workshops where there is a lot of information you want to convey.

It may be worth considering whether some of this information can be disseminaed within groups – this can be very powerful for pupils when they realise they have become experts in a certain area, which not all their classmates know about.

Talk Partners

  • Put children into pairs and allocate time for each to talk to the other e.g. to share experiences, generate ideas, reflect on what they have learned

Radio Broadcasts

  • Focuses on how to sustain talk without the help of gestures, eye contact or help from listeners.
  • The topic should involve explaining and reasoning, or trying to persuade listeners.
  • After playing back different examples, discuss what makes a good radio broadcast.

Just a minute

  • Give children a topic and ask them to speak without hesitation, deviation or repetition for 20/30/60 seconds as appropriate.
  • Others can challenge when the rules are broken.
  • If the challenge is successful the challenger continues the topic to the end of the minute unless challenged.
  • You may choose to skip the challenging and ask partners to take over or offer support to keep going.


  • Encourage children to stick to a point of view and to use language persuasively.
  • Divide the class into groups to develop their arguments and reasons.
  • They can either choose one person to present their ideas or organise the presentation between them.

Predicaments and Problems

  • Use opportunities from across the curriculum to focus attention on the language needed when problems are difficult to solve.
  • The children will need to weigh up alternatives, recognise conflicting points of view and negotiate situations. This can involve role-play.

Polarisation debates

  • Children are led up to a contentious decision or choice (possibly through a mind experiment).
  • They work with partners to formulate statements about their decision.
  • The groups for the two viewpoints stand opposite each other and individuals take it in turns from each side to persuade the other side to join them.
  • Children may move sides if swayed.