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Home > News and views > Speaking up for success

Speaking up for success

Speaking up for success

Around 60 primary and secondary pupils from schools across London came together on Monday at Samsung KX to quiz business and civic leaders about the importance of oracy (speaking and listening skills) as part of the ongoing Parliamentary Inquiry into the subject.

The event, which was co-organised and chaired by Voice 21, was split into two sessions. In the first, businesspeople including representatives from KPMG, Ernst & Young, Samsung and PWC fielded questions from the children (aged 7-16) such as ‘How did you use oracy to get your job?’, ‘How do you make sure you include diverse opinions in your decision making?’, ‘Is technology helping or hindering our ability to communicate?’ and ‘Is oracy as important as maths and English?’

On the last point, the panel were unanimous. Linda Ellett, Head of UK Consumer Markets at KPMG said: ‘I’ve spent most of my career as an actuary, which is a deeply technical subject full of maths and statistics. But to be a good actuary, you not only have to do the technical stuff, you have to be able to explain what you’re doing to other people too.’ Barry Murphy, a Partner at PWC agreed, explaining that storytelling was a key skill in presentations and pitches. ‘I wish oracy was taught as much as maths and English,’ he said. ‘We do a lot of work on storytelling at PWC, teaching people how to do this who didn’t learn it at school.’ And Sophie du Boulay, Legal Counsel at Ernst & Young made the point that ‘any job interview is 100 per cent oracy. Whether you are telling stories about yourself or listening to your interviewers, oracy is the number one skill to have in that room to be able to present yourself in the best light.’

In the second session, representatives from Young Citizens, the Association of Citizenship Teaching, Envision, the Youth Parliament and the #iWill Campaign answered a barrage of questions including ‘Do you think oracy helps with the right to be heard?’ ‘Is good oracy more important than truth?’ ‘Is there an easy way to get children’s voices into parliament?’ and ‘If oracy was taught would we have more people speaking out about climate change?’

John, a Year 6 pupil from Torriano Primary School in Camden, who asked the last question, said: ‘I think people being taught oracy is a great stepping-stone for them to go on and have their views heard. Adults need to listen to us – climate change will kill us if we don’t act now.’ Elijah, his classmate, said: ‘I think that the panel has helped us become braver and helped us to think “ok now we can make a change in what we want to do”.’

To find out more about the Oracy APPG inquiry and to submit evidence after the election please email


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