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

'We are active listeners!' in KS1 at Fairmeadows Foundation Primary School

About our school

Our school is a single form entry school with 210 pupils from nursery to Year 6.


In this case study, I share my experiences of explicitly teaching active listening skills in my Year 1 class. We have also started to implement these strategies throughout school so, even though it's early days, I can report on the impact of this approach on children's learning behaviours throughout EYFS and KS1.


In October 2018, I attended Project READ CPD. This aimed 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. Since then, I have led in-school CPD sessions for EYFS/KS1 and we have implemented the strategies.


These clips record the impact in my classroom of the task I decided to complete in the two week gap between the CPD sessions. I decide to focus on teaching active listening skills explicitly.

Clip 1: 'What do active listeners do?' - initial discussion Following the training, I asked a group of children this question and recorded their responses.

Clip 2: Teaching the skills - and improving metacognition In the two week gap between the CPD sessions, I taught active listening skills explicitly. I then asked the same group of children the same question: 'What do active listeners do?' 

Clip 3: After two weeks - evaluation of impact The Year 1 Teaching Assistant and I also observed the pupils during whole group discussions twice - at the beginning and at the end of the two week block.


Within KS1, we show an improvement in listening and attention for carpet time. This was shown in data collected from Year 1 and 2, as I share in clips 2 and 3. In Foundation Stage 1 and 2, listening skills are continually taught explicitly. However, after the CPD in school, the teachers and teaching assistants amended the language they were using to 'active listeners' and used the ears, eyes and thinking bubble that were being trialled in KS1. To evaluate the impact of the CPD I led, I collected colleagues' responses to these questions.

What was the impact of the active listening strategies in class?

'Children are more aware of what active listeners do.'

'More children are able to say or show what an active listener is.'

'We discussed which things they find easiest and most difficult about being an active listener.'

'Children used to say good sitting was active listening. They are now more aware of thinking about the words. However, I feel I need a longer period of time to see more of an impact.'

'Students ask to clarify certain words but not yet phrases or sayings.'

'Pupils in my class have a better understanding of what makes an active listener - it's not all about how they are sat.'

'Children are more aware after a discussion of what makes a good listener. We need to review to see impact.'

What were the barriers to pupils using more active listening skills in your class?

'The range of children's needs in the group.'

'Distractions - it depended who the child was sitting next to.'

'Typically, in my class, it was the same few children volunteering information.'

'The children know what they need to do but do not implement the strategies. They will need regular reminders several times a day until it's embedded.'

Overall, our evaluation is that staff confidence has improved in making speaking and listening a focus in sessions and throughout the day. 

Next steps

We will continue to use the strategies within school and review implementation throughout the year. Here are colleagues' responses to the following question.

What are your next steps?

'Continue to implement the strategies in class - more of a focus on good listening and on encouraging children to say when they don't understand.'

'Focus on talking with a partner and on vocabulary extension.'

'Collect evidence of speaking and listening activities. Discuss the idea of active listening explicitly with children.' 

'Act more mindfully when implementing listening and talking and gather evidence to prove impact.'

'Continue to use in lessons and to produce a second report to assess impact.'


Laura Fox, Year 1 teacher, Fairmeadows Foundation Primary School

Additional information

The Talking Strategies 4-7 resource box explores 12 strategies to improve spoken language skills in EYFS-KS1. Talking Strategies KS2 box is also available. To find out more about Talking Strategies training in Derbyshire, contact  

1.'What do active listeners do?' - initial discussion. Password for all clips: projectread
2.Teaching the skills - and improving metacognition
3. After two weeks - evaluation of impact
Related Case Studies
'Let's be Active Listeners!' EYFS - Year 2

Year group - EYFS - Year 2

How can we support our learners to listen effectively? This case study captures the experiences of EYFS-KS1 teachers who attended Talking Strategies EYFS-KS1 training during the Project READ year.  This CPD was based on the Talking Strategies 4-7 resource box developed by the communication charity ICAN. 

...(click to read more)
Every Child a Talker (ECaT) in the EYFS: effective adult-child interactions at Gorseybrigg Primary School

Year group - EYFS

In these clips, Sophie uses a range of 'in the moment' strategies to support children's spoken language skills.

...(click to read more)
'We are active listeners!' in KS1 at Fairmeadows Foundation Primary School

Year group - Key Stage 1

In this case study, Laura shares the impact of explicitly teaching active listening skills in KS1.

...(click to read more)
Alfreton Nursery - encouraging talk outdoors

Year group - EYFS

 In these clips, Laura encourages conversation outdoors, making the most of opportunities to explore, climb, hunt and play. 

...(click to read more)