Skip navigation

"It certainly widened their knowledge and understanding of the importance of talk in lessons and how talk is planned for, constructed and looked at as a core mechanism for driving progress and learning."

Anna Umbers, Sittingbourne School


Secondary Talk

Secondary Talk is an evidence-based practical programme to help schools support young people to develop essential communication skills, the foundation skills for learning, literacy and life. It has been shown to contribute to improved engagement in learning and attainment.

Secondary Talk offers flexible and practical solutions to schools to help them develop language and communication supportive approaches that respond to their own priorities and identified key issues.

“The Secondary Talk programme has had a significant impact upon our Teaching and Learning with a greater focus upon the quality of our communication. With a greater understanding of the language we share across the curriculum we can secure further progress as students transfer learning skills across subjects as well as speaking and writing communication.”
-Maéve Taylor, Deputy Headteacher, Claydon High School

How Secondary Talk works

Delivered over 3-4 terms by experienced and specialist I CAN communication advisors Secondary Talk provides consultancy, a range of short training modules, coaching, 'what to do' materials, three levels of standards to aim for and validation, in a package that is tailored to the needs of the school. Together these help change and embed communication supportive practice in a focused, step by step way that impacts on the behaviour, attainment and engagement of students.

Read this blog to find out more about how Secondary Talk works using a communication rich teaching style, and the impact on pupils. By Jasmine Woolven, Mathematics Teacher at Overton Grange School.


The University of Sheffield carried out an independent evaluation of the pilot in 2011. A report summary can be found here. This showed Secondary Talk to have a significant impact on practice in classrooms.

Between 2012 and 2014, further evaluation was carried out looking at the impact on outcomes for students. This found that Secondary Talk had lasting impact in schools, with strategies being built into what staff did on a day-to-day basis. It also found changes to students’ language and communication and to their learning following Secondary Talk. Read the report summary here.

Next Steps

  • To find out how Secondary Talk could work in your school, contact I CAN today on 020 7843 2515 or email and please provide your contact name, position, school name, address, contact phone number and best time to reach you by phone.
  • If you are a specialist teacher or speech and language therapist and want to hear about when Secondary Talk might be available via our I CAN Licensee route email
  • If you offer Secondary Talk in your school or local authority, you can use this text in your Local Offer.