AO of the year

ESB endorses Sir Keir Starmer’s pledge to ensure all children are taught Oracy skills in school

English Speaking Board (International) Ltd, a specialist Awarding Organisation offering Oracy and English Language qualifications, and also a member of the Oracy Network, is delighted that the subject of Oracy in schools is high on the political agenda.

In an article published in The Times, Sir Keir Starmer has pledged to prioritise oracy as a key aspect of the Labour Party’s education mission.

The Times Education Editor, Nicola Woolcock says, “Speaking fluently and clearly will be put at the heart of the national curriculum and given the same status as literacy and numeracy under a Labour government, Sir Keir Starmer has pledged. “The ability to articulate ideas is key to “getting on and thriving in life”, Starmer says, arguing that children with poor language skills at the age of five are six times less likely to reach the expected standard of English at 11.”

Says ESB’s Chief Executive, Tina Renshaw, “It’s fantastic to see that oracy is being recognised as a priority in education. As a member of the Oracy Network, the group supporting the work of the Oracy APPG chaired by Emma Hardy MP for Kingston upon Hull West and Hessle, ESB has been successfully offering oracy qualifications to learners for 70 years and knows its impact as a valid pathway to promote oracy in schools. We certificate more than 60,000 learners per year and regularly rank amongst the Top 50 UK-based Awarding Organisations offering vocational qualifications.”

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. By not developing our children’s language and communication skills from the earliest opportunity, we are limiting our workforce and the economy. The report states: ‘Children with poor vocabulary aged five are more than twice as likely to be unemployed aged 34’.”

Tina adds, “Clarity of communication and an ability to express thoughts simply, sincerely and persuasively, are qualities needed by everyone in this specialised, competitive world. For whatever the industrial, professional or social responsibilities are, every individual will have to inform, instruct, listen, explain, question, interpret, disagree and advise. ESB’s assessment framework can act as a scaffolding tool for embedding Oracy into a school curriculum”.

ESB Honorary President, Merriel Halsall-William’s amazing work on Oracy is recognised in the comments section of The Times article:

“I was lucky enough to be taught public speaking while at school, a skill which has served me well throughout my career. Having seen Managers crumble when required to address a room full of staff, shaking like a leaf, I can only consider myself extremely grateful for the skills I was given in my youth. Thanks Ms. Halsall-Williams.”

Chair of Trustees, Pippa Quarrell, further adds:

“Wonderful to see reference to the work of the amazing Merriel Halsall-Williams. She’s devoted her career to this cause by preparing her pupils for Speaking and Listening assessments provided by a brilliant organisation set up exactly 70 years ago by another legend in this area, Christabel Burniston. The Oracy qualifications offered by English Speaking Board are a golden ticket to social mobility and lifelong success.”

Tina says, “For the last 70 years, we have witnessed the immediate and life-long impact of our Oracy qualifications on the progression of learners’ oracy and personal development but now we have data to prove in our National Impact Report.”

To find out more about ESB’s National Impact Report, please watch the video. You can also download the Executive Summary of the report here.

ESB’s commitment to supporting disadvantaged learners is demonstrated by its 70/70 Outreach Campaign. Steadfast in its determination to reduce the impacts of disadvantage on communication and oracy skills, ESB has already committed £40,000 to financially support organisations where its learners face disadvantage due to socio-economic, special educational needs and disabilities and migration status, enabling them access to its qualifications.

Adds ESB’s Chief Executive Tina, “Our goal is to expand our reach to more organisations where learners face disadvantage. We will continue our efforts to narrow the impact of the disadvantage gap by working with these organisations on Oracy and English Language.”

If you are interested in speaking to our team about ESB’s Speech qualification suite or if your centre qualifies for 70/70 funding, we would love to hear from you. Please email or call 01695 573439 extension 201.