Communication: Study Action Areas


Each of the nine MAC themes is divided into four study action areas. This page sets out specimen content for the study action areas that form part of the Communication theme.

The four study action areas in this theme are:

  1. Developing verbal communication skills
  2. Developing reading, writing and numeracy skills
  3. Communication through the expressive arts
  4. The environmental impact on communication

This page also includes the following:

MAC brings together disparate National Curriculum materials and adds important material, aiming to organise children’s learning in a focused and determined way.

There is no suggestion that the content set out below is in any sense definitive. It is intended merely for discussion and debate, a starting point for the detailed programmes of learning that will be required for each year group.

There is a progression within the three ‘Interacting With Others’ learning domains: effective communication sets children up to develop positive relationships; positive relationships set children up to be contributing citizens in their communities and in the wider society.

Communication helps build positive relationships; positive relationships help build stronger communities.

The ability to communicate is not the only factor in positive relationships, but the inability to communicate limits communication, limits relationships and limits positive contributions to society.

A major part of communication is the manner in which the person communicates to another. The manner of communication is the non-verbal and verbal relationship skills evident in interactions between people. The non-verbal and verbal relationship skills are dealt with in the Relationships Learning Domain.

Study Action Area 1: Developing verbal communication skills

Most interaction between people is verbal. Indeed, in this present age of information explosion and multi-media outlets, the ability to communicate through the spoken work is increasing exponentially. Command of spoken language is of increasing importance in the workplace, particularly the growing number of jobs requiring ‘wordsmiths’ whether as team leader or as presenters of information on multi-media outlets. People talk to each other more than they write to each other.

Specimen content:

  • Teachers as leader: Work collaboratively with the teacher in question and answer sessions to facilitate thinking and learning, especially important where vocabulary is being introduced for the first time in relation to subjects such as science and geography.
  • Children as leaders: Take increasing lead, in learning through talk, to explore concepts, find answers to questions, or solve problems. ‘What you do, you remember. What you listen to, you forget’.
  • Children as ‘teachers’: Work collaboratively to structure and remember information. Children develop leadership roles and develop team building skills in verbal interaction with each other.
  • Formal and informal talk: Learn the language use in verbal exchange is used differently in different situations, for example, talk in class assemblies is not the same as talk between friends.
  • Formal group communication: Develop their communication skills by making presentations to each other, by debating, by delivering information in assemblies to the whole school.
  • Informal group communication: Develop oral skills through recitation of poetry, telling jokes and story-telling.
  • Specialist language development: Learn subject vocabulary and develop ability to talk the subject; ‘to know it is to be able to talk it’; develop ability to use subject language in oral discussion (for example, the subjects of history or geography).
  • Foreign language learning: Learn a foreign language to understand the language spoken is specific to a place and time in the world, understand not everyone speaks English and there are very many different languages spoken across the world. Links are drawn to job prospects.

Study Action Area 2: Developing reading, writing and numeracy

Writing, and especially reading, is relevant to the increasing availability of knowledge on the internet and dependency on the internet for advice, information, networking and ordering online. As the child grows and develops, the relevance of reading, writing and numeracy (mathematical) skills increases both personally for the individual and for the world of work requirements. Reading and writing improves vocabulary and verbal skills.

Specimen content:

  • Reading for fluency: Read a wide range of genres’; building up a wide fiction and non fiction vocabulary; increasing linguistic skills across the subject spectrum, for example, scientific and geographical vocabulary.
  • Writing for accuracy: Use correct grammar, spelling and punctuation in their writing.
  • Writing in different genres: Develop varied writing skills as required in story telling, report writing, diary and blogging; develop digital writing and increasing ability to write extended pieces, using technology to edit and improve their work.
  • Specialist subject language: Write in the language of the subject, e.g., scientific, geographical language
  • Numeracy and mathematics: Become proficient in numeracy re everyday living (dates, diaries, time management, weekly budgets, personal financial planning and basic numeracy workplace skills); proficient in mathematics for the broad range of jobs opportunities there are (accountants, bankers, project managers, financial auditors, economists, financial planners, statisticians, mathematicians, theoretical physicists, astronomers etcetera).

Study action area 3: Communication through the expressive arts

Art, dance, drama and music are key ways of communication between people. Children who develop their artistic, dance, drama and musical skills have three advantages: they increase their range of communication skills; they are better able to identify with the popular culture of art, dance and drama; and they are better equipped to take up the hundreds of thousands of jobs catering for the country’s creative arts and tourist industry.

Specimen content:

  • Aesthetic communication: Develop ability to express themselves through art, dance and music. ‘Every child is a performer’.

Study action area 4: The environmental impact on communication

The impact of the environment on communication is little recognised, but it is real. Providing a safe and attractive learning environment for children to express themselves — and with people who are empathetic — enhances their ability to communicate orally and to make the best use of the written word.

Specimen content:

  • Environment communication: Develop sensitivity to their environment and develop awareness of the environment they are in and the impact it has on the communication  process; practise speaking in different environmental settings to increase confidence and ability to talk in a variety of settings.

Teaching notes

The challenge for teachers is to extend children’s natural ability to learn in their early years by continuing learning through doing, not learning by passively listening to someone else.

This means provision of frequent opportunities to ‘speak it’; it means providing children with audiences for their reading and writings and for their acquisition of skills; and it means deliberately and consciously building vocabulary across all learning areas.

Further information

Websites contributing ideas and information to the action areas are listed on the links page.

A word on definitions

In the Merged Action Curriculum, ‘the process of passing information and understanding from one person to another’ (the dictionary definition) involves not only reading. writing and mathematical skills but also the ability to communicate through the expressive arts — music, drama and art.

Increased recognition is given to the importance of the expressive arts as means of communication. The more the child is familiar with the language of the expressive arts, the better the ability to interact with others. An environmental context is recognised as additionally relevant for children to realise the context of the communication impacts on communication effectiveness.

Children develop their language, mathematical, artistic, and musical knowledge and skills in their learning as outlined in The National Curriculum for England, Key Stages 1 & 2.

Reading, writing and the spoken word

The current National Curriculum promotes reading and writing of paramount importance above all else. The Merged Action Curriculum puts reading and writing into context. The most important form of communication in relationships between people is verbal. Verbal language is important not just in personal relationships, but also how it is used in work. The importance of the ability to stand and talk is underlined by the increasingly vast numbers of people using their verbal skills through multi media outlets as journalists, reporters, story tellers, poets, politicians, documentarists (?) and stand up comedians. Effective communicators have a rich verbal language, a kit of listening skills and know how to use their body language to good purpose.

However, recognition of the importance in developing children’s verbal skills, is not to demote the importance of reading and writing. Both are crucial to the individual’s education of the wider world, their ability to further self educate through their reading, their ability to use multi-media effectively in their personal lives and the crucial role reading and writing plays in the world of work.

Highlighting the importance of verbal communication in relationships does not lessen the importance of children learning to read and write. Indeed the opposite is the case. Learning through speaking enhances ability to read and write. Neither is it the case that learning to read and write would be given any less time on the curriculum.  It is crucially important for children to learn to read and write across a wide range of genres. It is crucially important for children to understand and use the specialist vocabulary associated with the different subjects such as science, geography, history etcetera in order to better understand their world and the better to share that understanding with others.

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