“I joined children and young people, teachers and charities in Parliament to call for more focus on the development of students’ speaking skills in school.

Schoolchildren interviewed me on the importance of oracy, shared their opinions on the subject and demonstrated their own skills at the launch of a new inquiry led by the Oracy All-Party Parliamentary Group.

Children who have poor language and communication skills at age five are six times less likely to reach the expected standard in English at age 11 and twice as likely to be unemployed aged 34. New research suggests that efforts to close the privilege gap are at a standstill yet only a minority of state-funded schools consistently or deliberately teach these vital skills.

The ‘Speak for Change’ inquiry is seeking to investigate the extent to which schools across the UK prioritise this area of learning, assess the value and impact of oracy education in providing young people with crucial skills for succeeding in life beyond school, and identify the barriers to children accessing and receiving quality oracy education.

Life in Parliament is a constant reminder of the importance of being able to share your opinion, argue effectively, listen and be listened to. We must support children and young people in Walsall South to develop these skills for them to succeed in their learning, in the job market and in engaging in our democracy.”