AO of the year

ESB and Villiers Park Educational Trust working together to make a real difference to the lives of underrepresented young people

ESB is excited to deliver confidence-building and oracy workshops to a number of underrepresented young people at National Social Justice Charity, Villiers Park Educational Trust, this week.

Designed to develop Year 10 learners’ key speaking and listening skills, the 5-day workshops, funded through ESB’s Christabel Burniston Fund, are being held at a school in Swindon – with learners completing their accredited ESB Speech qualification on their last day.

Trainer from ESB, Julia Ward, says “I am looking forward to working with the Villiers Park Educational Trust and students who are taking part in a week that will culminate in them taking their ESB Level 2 Certificate in Speech (Grade 4) Speech for Employability assessments. The very fact that these students are prepared to forego their half term to improve their skills of research, speaking and interview techniques, demonstrates a commitment and willingness to do well that will stand them in very good stead in the future. I can’t wait to meet them all.”

As well as learners benefitting from the workshops, a member of staff at Villiers Park also has the opportunity to attend the workshops, to upskill themselves so that, going forward, they can prepare young people for ESB qualifications. 

Gaby Sumner, Interim Chief Executive of Villiers Park says, “Villiers Park is thrilled to be partnering with ESB. Through our flagship Future Leaders Programme, more young people will be able to develop key oracy and English language skills. As a small but ambitious charity with a national reach, its partnerships like ESB which enable us to make a real difference to lives of underrepresented young people”.

Says ESB’s Chief Executive, Tina Renshaw: “We are thrilled to be working in collaboration with Villiers Park. At ESB, we want every individual, whatever their background, to possess the oracy and English language skills they need to achieve their aspirations and enable them to look to the future with confidence.

Research reveals that more people than ever need help with speech and language challenges.

– Research from Sutton Trust in February 2019, for the APPG for Social Mobility, found that from the age of five, the UK’s most disadvantaged children can be 19 months behind their more affluent peers in vocabulary development, and this deficit can have life-long consequences.

– Young people with SEN often have fewer opportunities in later life: by age 27 they are less likely than their peers to be in sustained employment” (DfE, 2018).

– According to the 2021 schools census there are 1.6 million pupils (19%) who are provided with ‘English as an Additional Language’ support, indicating that a growing proportion of the younger population have significant ESOL needs. A 2019 study by Carlos Vargas-Silva and colleagues concluded that asylum migrants – defined as those asylum seekers who have been granted citizenship in the UK – had an employment rate of 51% compared to 73% for the UK-born and earned on average 55% less per week and 37% less per hour.

Tina adds: “ESB qualifications encourage social mobility and promote learners’ confidence – preparing them for aspirational opportunities in study and work. Learners have the opportunity to complete a qualification specific to their life goals and competencies.

“I so look forward to having the opportunity to equip more underrepresented groups with essential oracy and English language skills through our partnership with Villiers Park.”

“As we celebrate ESB’s 70th Anniversary throughout 2023, we are hoping to reach more organisations where individuals face disadvantage and support them financially to access our wide range of speech and language assessments as part our 70/70 Campaign. 2023 is such an exciting year for us and we would love to share the magic of ESB with you.”

Who is eligible for support through the Christabel Burniston Fund?

If you are an organisation, similar to Villiers Park – sharing the common belief that communication lies at the heart of social mobility – and you believe that your community members could benefit from our qualifications but you are concerned about fees, please do get in touch. We would love to hear from you.

We use two main sets of indicators for state schools
– The percentage of pupils receiving Pupil Premium.
– The Government’s Indices of Deprivation for the area that your school serves.

For third sector organisations we will look at your current income and external funding and the Government’s Indices of Deprivation for the community your organisation supports.

If you would like further information about the financial support that ESB could offer your organisation, please click here or email