Group Work: What do children have to do?

The demands of group work for quite young children can appear very daunting to a parent but teachers are trained to use a range of strategies to develop these skills. As long as the class teacher knows the strategies from BSA:Education and/ or the speech and language therapist, you should find that your child is receiving the support to learn these skills in an enjoyable way, without being worried by the oral tasks.

Response partners

This is a typically simple technique that is used in any area of the curriculum. Children are given a buddy or partner to work with. A child who stammers can be especially helped by this strategy as in a one to one situation he should be more relaxed about talking, particularly if the partner is a friend.

Children are asked to talk to another child to clarify their understanding, generate ideas, justify opinions, create a joint response, or assess and evaluate work. The length of the talking depends on the purpose of the talk. Sometimes it is seconds, sometimes minutes, but it always has a distinct purpose.

There are many benefits, it helps both children, all children can participate, gives children a voice, allows exploration of different ideas in a safe environment.

It encourages children to:

  • Engage in purposeful peer and self evaluation
  • Be more involved in their own learning
  • Test out ideas and understanding
  • Express a point of view
  • Spend time thinking about a concept or question before responding.

Group Discussion and Interaction

Working together in pairs and small groups helps children to learn to:

  • develop the language and social skills needed for cooperation and collaboration
  • use exploratory language to try out ideas
  • extend their ideas as they share these with others
  • stretch their language as they talk critically and constructively
  • support and build on each other's contributions
  • take their turns in discussion

Children need varied experience of groups, including:

  • for different purposes, such as investigating, problem solving, sorting, planning, predicting, reporting, evaluating
  • with different outcomes, such as carrying out an experiment, constructing an artefact, making a presentation, deciding on actions;
  • learning to use talk in different ways, such as discussing, hypothesising, agreeing and disagreeing, questioning, reflecting


Drama is an important element of speaking and listening and it is taught in its own right. Pupils work on:

  • Improvisation and working in role
  • Writing and performing scripts
  • Responding to and evaluating performance

Information for teachers: BSA:Education-Oral Tasks.

In this resource, the sections Help in the home for your child who stammers and How to help your child's learning provide information for developing at home your child's confidence in communicating, so that he will be better able to participate in speaking and listening activities at school.

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Text for this page: Group Work: What do children have to do?
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