Oral skills are being side-lined in British state schools. Digital technology is contributing to a decline in face-to-face communication. With automation and Covid-19 set to transform the economy, all of this undermines a future workforce for whom communication skills will be increasingly important.
It also poses a crisis of citizenship, at a moment in which ordinary people's voices need to be heard more than ever before.
We are a group of historians and social scientists working together to discover what a deeper knowledge of the past, present and future of speech education can bring to these problems.
Launched in early 2020, we are working with primary and secondary teachers, The English Speaking Union, Voice 21 and the All Party Parliamentary Group on Oracy to provide new evidence for how citizenship education can be taught through a focus on speech.
Over the next three years, we will develop these findings into teaching resources freely available on this site, and into workshops that our team will deliver across the UK.
We are hosting a major conference during 2021, and our work will culminate in 2023 with policy presentations at the Department for Education and a special session at the House of Commons