The aim of the Project READ website is to support collaboration between schools in our joint endeavour to improve reading outcomes for Derbyshire pupils. A huge 'Thank you!' to all who have contributed case studies. Use the case studies as a starting point to reflect on practice in your school with colleagues. Explore the 'Useful Links' tab for research, resources and continuous professional development (CPD) opportunities. The password to view the video clips is projectread

'Let's be Active Listeners!' EYFS - Year 2

About our school

Teachers from a number of schools have contributed to this case study.


The CPD equipped teachers with practical strategies to implement the first recommendation in the Education Endowment Foundation Literacy Guidance Reports for the EYFS and Key Stage 1. The first recommendation in each report emphasises the importance of developing pupils' spoken language skills and wider understanding of language. The aim of the training was to equip a teacher in EYFS/ KS1 to become a 'Talk Champion' who could lead practice in school, using ICAN's Talking Strategies 4-7 resource box as a starting point. This case study focuses on one of the strategies in the resource box: teaching pupils to be active listeners.


This CPD event consisted of 2 x 0.5 day sessions, with a two week gap between sessions. After the first session, delegates completed a gap task. Most decided to focus on establishing ‘active listening’ skills in their classes, using the resources in the boxes. 


The training aimed to equip teachers with:

- a range of strategies to improve pupils’ communication skills.

- knowledge, skills and training materials to lead in-school CPD and drive improvements throughout school.


At the beginning of the second session, teachers contributed their reflections on the impact of teaching 'active listening skills' explicitly to their own class. Here are some of their comments:

‘Modelling good and bad listening has been so powerful. My Teaching Assistant talked to me in front of the class – and I did poor listening. The children could tell me when I wasn’t listening to my TA and, from this activity, they came up with the ‘Good Listening’ rule for our class themselves.’ Jane Mackney, Brigg Infant School 

‘Before we started this activity, we talked about being active listeners. Then, we gave the children time to listen to each other talk about ‘what we did at the weekend’. I was amazed by how well the children listened and sat still. I also noticed how much they loved being listened to!’ Stephanie Pratt, Norbriggs Primary School 

‘Children absolutely loved demonstrating good and bad listening skills and we could refer back to this when necessary during whole class teaching.’ Sara Insley, Linton Primary School 

‘Let’s get our ears ready for good listening! Gently rub your ears from top to bottom. Ready to listen?’ Lucy Doyle, Herbert Strutt Primary School 

‘Before introducing the talk strategies, I asked a Teaching Assistant to observe my carpet-time session to look for children who displayed active listening. Surprisingly, only 50% of my class were demonstrating active listening skills – at least, as far as we could tell, from observation. Then, I spent a further 2 weeks introducing the strategies, looking for and praising active listening. We repeated the initial observation task – and this time, 87% of the children demonstrated active listening. I noticed a real difference in the children’s learning behaviours. It’s shown me how important it is to be explicit with children about how to listen.’ Libby Partridge, North Wingfield Primary School 

‘I was amazed how well the listening ears worked. As soon as I put them on, I had all the children’s attention!’ Anne Westwood, Heanor Langley Infant School 

‘My children were so eager to be good listeners that they asked for their own good listening chart. They were so proud when their name went on it! … The difference in my class after just two weeks has been great. I am excited to see how much more progress we can make… My pupils now know how to be good listeners and why they should do it.’ Kristy Russell, Westhouses Primary School 

‘Using the thought bubble really helped my class to understand the process that is taking place when we listen.’ Karen Dobson, Abercrombie Primary School 

‘It was effective to use the poster to give a fresh look at what a good listener is… I was amazed at the difference in the children’s listening after introducing the listening ears and the thought bubble… Changing the children’s carpet places and sharing the poster allowed the dominant speakers to reflect on their listening skills – which encouraged less confident speakers to contribute more.’ Monika Naik, Ladywood Primary School 

‘I found it really helpful to use the thought bubble in class – to say to the children: ‘As you listen, try to think about the same thing as the person who is talking. Children now ask to use the ‘think bubble’ to share what they are thinking and to check their understanding.’ Jane Goodison, Brockley Primary School

Jane also contributed a film clip, in which she asked a group of Year 2/3 pupils 'What do good listeners do?' before and after teaching the strategies to the class. It demonstrates how, even though it's early days, the children are more able to articulate the skills an active listener uses, following an explicit teaching focus.

Next steps

The Talking Strategies 4-7 resource box explores 12 strategies to improve spoken language skills in EYFS-KS1. To find out more about Talking Strategies KS1 training in Derbyshire, contact  


Thank you to all the teachers who contributed to this case study.

Additional information

A Talking Strategies KS2 box is also available. To find out more about Talking Strategies KS2 training in Derbyshire, contact  

'What do active listeners do?' Year 2/3 at Brockley Primary School. Password for all clips: projectread
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