Why teaching talk matters and how it transforms young people’s outcomes

“Oracy should take its place alongside literacy and numeracy in the staple diet of
education.” – Alastair Campbell

Last Friday, we welcomed several hundred teachers and educators from all over the UK to our annual conference: Unheard Voices, Lost Potential.

Across the vibrant and energising day, the audience listened to a range of inspiring speakers from the education, communications and media communities, discuss a variety of oracy related subjects and themes.

Professor Neli Mercer from Oracy Cambridge launched proceedings announcing to the audience: “Teachers, don’t underestimate your influence on the development of your students’ spoken language skills’. Neil stressed that oracy is key a key predictor of academic attainment and that attitudes to language affect our behaviour and judgements.

Neil was followed by former No.10 Communications Director, turned author, podcaster and mental health campaigner Alastair Campbell whose new book ‘But What Can I Do?’ includes a section on the need to empower young people to use their voice for good. Alastair reflected on which politicians and world leaders are particularly good speakers and listeners, before discussing the importance of teaching young people how to be effective communicators, concluding, “confidence can be taught”.

TV and radio presenter Mary Mandefield delivered the afternoon keynote reflecting on her personal experience growing from a shy student to confident professional: “Some of the best conversations I’ve had on my shows are not with the people who are slick and media trained, but people who are passionate about what they’re talking about. It’s about encouraging and showing different kinds of voices.”

Alongside the keynote sessions, there were a variety of panel debates and masterclasses tackling a wide range of subjects. From nurturing quiet voices, to practicing deep listening, from student community campaigners to accent bias, and from students with additional needs to those transitioning to secondary school, the day was packed full of useful insights, practical tips and though-provoking speakers.

We’d like to thank our expert contributors and our vocal, engaged audience for sharing their time, thoughts and ideas; together we can ensure all young people find their voice for success in school and in life.

If you weren’t able to make this year’s event or want to refresh your memory, have a watch of the clips below from our keynote sessions.  

Keynote clips

Watch Alastair Campbell in conversation with Voice 21 CEO Beccy Earnshaw

Watch Professor Neil Mercer's keynote address at Unheard Voices, Lost Potential

Watch Mary Mandefield talk about why it's OK not to be the loudest voice in the room

Snapshots of the day

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