Our impact report: 2016 - 2021

Our CEO, Beccy Earnshaw, shares her thoughts on the launch of our five-year impact report:

In 2016, Voice 21 set out on a mission to empower all children and young people to use their voice for success in school and in life. We knew that spoken language skills were one of the strongest predictors of a child’s future life chances, yet too many children were not being given the opportunities to develop these crucial skills, opportunities consistently afforded to an advantaged few. 

We aimed to make the case for oracy by generating and sharing the evidence of the difference oracy education makes to children and young people’s outcomes and opportunities. We planned to train and support thousands of teachers to act as the frontline in improving students’ speaking and listening skills in state schools. We wanted to create an infrastructure of leading schools to develop good practice and share this with other schools in their localities and dramatically boost the body of resources, materials, guidance and support for oracy teaching.

At the same time, we hoped to influence decision-makers to leverage their power to create the conditions that would encourage all state schools to teach oracy as part of their standard practice and curriculum. 

Five years on, I’m delighted to be launching our impact report for 2016 – 2021, describing the progress we have made on these objectives. As a charity, we have grown considerably in scale and influence, working with thousands of schools across the UK and focusing our support in those communities that will most benefit from it, including targeted hubs in areas such as Liverpool, Tyneside, Leicester, Nottingham, Camden, Tower Hamlets, The Black Country, Ipswich and Knowsley.

 


Underlying all of our efforts has been the passion, dedication and enthusiasm of the thousands of teachers we have had the privilege to work with. Reading their stories of the transformational impact of oracy in their classrooms, as set out in our impact report, has been inspirational.

Through working with these teachers, we have gained a deeper understanding of how our actions and interventions help schools to provide a high-quality oracy education for their students and the barriers and opportunities they face in doing this. We therefore consolidated our range of programmes into one unified approach, Voice 21 Oracy Schools. Through this multi-year model, we partner with schools to achieve long-term sustained change and build a strong collaborative network of educators committed to oracy education.

Recently, of course, our work has been affected by the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. Early indications suggest that school closures have contributed to a widening of the language gap. Yet this has given us a renewed zeal for our work, and what’s more, schools are increasingly recognising the role of oracy in helping students bounce back academically, socially and in their wellbeing.

A lot has changed in five years. What hasn’t changed is the central importance of oracy to children and young people’s outcomes, both in learning and in their lives beyond school. As Becky Francis, CEO of the Education Endowment Foundation, said recently, the ‘evidence of the power of talk is indisputable.’

Over the next five years, we want the oracy education provided by our schools to become the norm, not the exception. We are growing our reach to 1900 schools per year to achieve this, serving over 800,000 pupils, and focusing our growth in areas of high need.

I am immensely proud of our achievements so far, and feel excited and privileged to lead Voice 21 into the next five years of our journey. I want to take this opportunity to thank all of our supporters, funders, advocates and friends who have helped us so far. With your help, and the commitment and ingenuity of the teachers we work with, I am confident we will meet our objectives over the next five years.

I hope you will join us for this next chapter.

Beccy Earnshaw
CEO, Voice 21

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© 2020 Voice 21. Voice 21 is a registered charity in England and Wales. Charity number 1152672 | Company no. 08165798