21 Trust – 2014 & 2016

What’s the Big Idea?

21 Trust are reimagining the education journey for the 21st century through their innovative School 21 and practical programs to roll out more broadly across the UK.

One key area of focus is the need for effective speaking and communication skills that are vital for young people to find their voice, build relationships and engage effectively both socially and professionally.

The Big Change Needed

Many employers agree that communication is the most important skill lacking in the workforce, a bigger issue than a lack of literacy, numeracy or basic computer skills (The UK Commission’s Employer Skills Survey 2013).

This is a pronounced problem in areas of deprivation where 50% of children are entering school with speaking skills below where they need to be at that age

Young people, particularly those from disadvantaged backgrounds, are not being given the skills to communicate. To speak in a range of situations and to a range of people. They don’t have a voice and their silence means we are sleepwalking into some serious problems. This has to change now.

– Ed Fidoe, Founder of 21 Trust.

In a recent survey of inner city schools the average child was found to speak just 4 words per lesson

-The Communication Trust

The Solution

21 Trust are working to embed speaking skills in schools and make sure it is valued on the same level as reading, writing and numeracy.

They are doing this by rolling out a  framework for teaching speaking skills that feeds a curriculum, assessment tool and teacher training that have had a huge impact in their pilot at School 21. The ultimate aim is to get oracy into the national curriculum.10816226445_43b6779b1c_o

Impact on Young People

Through the work of 21 Trust and Voice 21, over 3,000 children now have access to dedicated Oracy lessons in their schools. In 2016, Voice 21 have also been working to train 15 new schools in Oracy teaching, and an additional 20 schools have indicated interest in a second wave roll out.

Additionally, an independent EEF study has assessed the curriculum and assessment tool and verified both as  “meaningful and with promise of impact.” After these positive initial findings, the EEF have committed to piloting and testing the Oracy curriculum with 12 schools in 4 regional hubs.

“Through oracy we have learned about speaking in different situations and knowing what to say to different people for different reasons. It is not just about what happens in the classroom, I think that what we have learned impacts on how we act in the real world when talking to our friends, shopkeepers and in the future, our employers. We have been encouraged to talk to people outside of our comfort zone.”

– Nishat, Year 10 Oracy Student

What is Big Change doing?

21 Trust have already developed an effective speaking curriculum and assessment. We are helping them run a campaign to scale it to more schools and engage teachers, influencers and the general public.

In 2014, we seed funded the programme £166k that allowed them to:

  • Hire a project lead;
  • Build an advisory board to include experts from government, education, business and third sector;
  • Launch a website with a suite of resources for schools and teachers to start using Oracy in their own lessons;
  • Develop and deliver a series of events;
  • Develop the program’s reputation in the sector as the go-to organisation around how to built communication skills

We will also be continuing our support of 21 Trust in 2016 by providing additional funding for an in-depth research and advocacy program on the importance of communication and speaking schools for young people.

The support of Big Change has lit the touchpaper of our project because it gives us the freedom to do what we want, and make mistakes and go again. This is the only way that this project is going to be a success, we need to learn along the way.

– Ed Fidoe