SHINE and Voice 21 have launched ‘Voice Liverpool’, a city-wide education programme to boost the spoken language skills and literacy of students in more than 96 schools across Liverpool.

The programme aims to tackle the gap in literacy and language between children from disadvantaged backgrounds and their more advantaged peers by upskilling teachers and schools in oracy education.

Children from the poorest homes fall behind in the development of language and literacy from the earliest stages of learning. By the time school starts, their language skills can already be months behind their classmates. Due to the level of deprivation in communities within Liverpool, the issue is particularly significant in the city. In Liverpool, less than half (46%) of all disadvantaged children achieve a good level of language development in the Early Years, and just three in five (56%) reach the expected standard aged seven.

Voice Liverpool is based on a strong evidence base that improvements in students’ speaking skills and the quality of talk in the classroom can raise attainment in core subjects such as English, maths and science as well as enhancing their confidence, self-esteem and wellbeing.

In the first year, 36 primary and secondary schools[i] will be supported to boost students’ oral language skills through a consistent focus on oracy in Key Stage 2 and Key Stage 3.

Neil Verdin, Headteacher at Pleasant Street Primary School in Liverpool city centre said: “Developing confident and articulate communication from an early age is the essential tool in ensuring children can transfer learning effectively across the curriculum and beyond. Voice Liverpool offers a fantastic opportunity for schools to work collaboratively; refining sophisticated teaching skills in oracy to ensure our children receive the best possible stepping stones to succeed.”

Beccy Earnshaw, Director of Voice 21, said: “Teaching oracy is an issue of social equity. Research shows that oracy skills are crucial to students’ opportunities and outcomes within school and in their lives beyond education.  However only a minority of schools are consistently providing meaningful opportunities for students to develop these skills.

“With support from SHINE, Voice 21 will work with teachers and schools across the city over the next three years to get talking in class and empower the young people of Liverpool to find their voice for success in school and life.”

Mayor of Liverpool Joe Anderson said: “Raising educational attainment and making sure every child achieves their potential is a key priority for the council. This is a brilliant project which will support many of our schools to build on the already excellent work they do, giving pupils the skills they need to be confident communicators for the rest of their lives.”

Voice Liverpool is just one of many programmes supported by SHINE’s Bridging the Gap fund. The fund supports innovative programmes across the Northern Powerhouse that aid better transitions between primary and secondary school and help children from disadvantaged backgrounds to thrive throughout secondary school.

Fiona Spellman, Chief Executive of SHINE said: “We are delighted to be able to support Voice Liverpool to boost oracy and language development and attainment among so many children from disadvantaged backgrounds in Liverpool.

“We believe that all children should be given the opportunity to achieve the best possible qualifications so they can leave school with real choices for their future lives. Voice Liverpool will enable many young children across the city to thrive throughout their time at school. We’re looking forward to working closely with this programme to understand its impact and help it to scale-up for the benefit of many more children.”

Lord Jim O’Neill, Vice-Chair of the Northern Powerhouse Partnership and SHINE Trustee, said: “If we want to see the Northern Powerhouse flourish, it is vital that we give children from disadvantaged backgrounds across the North access to an education that enables them to thrive. I’m delighted to support this programme, which will have such a lasting impact on the school attainment of children across the whole of Liverpool, and will help them to achieve their potential throughout education and beyond.”

Professor Gavin Brown, Pro-Vice Chancellor for Education at the University of Liverpool and SHINE Patron, said: “At the University of Liverpool we are strongly committed to ensuring that young people from all backgrounds can access education. It is fantastic to see the launch of an initiative such as Voice Liverpool, which will have such a positive impact on the attainment of children across the city. I’m very much looking forward to seeing the results of this pioneering programme and to see how it supports achievement and aspiration for many more young people in Liverpool.”

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[i]

School name Postcode
St Hilda’s CE High School L17 3AL
Belle Vale Community Primary L25 2QF
Whitefield Primary L6 2HZ
Archbishop Blanch CoE School L7 6HQ
Croxteth Community Primary School L110BP
Springwood Heath Primary School L19 4TL
St Vincent de Paul Catholic Primary School L1 5BY
Longmoor Community Primary School L9 0EU
Northcote Primary School L9 1HW
Fazakerley Primary School L10 7NL
Florence Melly Primary School L4 9UA
Fazakerley High School L10 7NL
St Margaret’s Anfield Primary School L6 4BX
Pleasant Street Primary School L3 5TS
St. Nicholas Catholic Primary School L3 5XF
St Michael in the Hamlet Primary School L17 7BA
Kingsley Community Primary L8 2TU
St. Charles’ Catholic Primary School L17 7JA
St. Finbar’s Catholic Primary School L8 9RY
Matthew Arnold Primary School L8 9UB
St. Patricks Primary School L8 5UX
St Hugh’s Catholic Primary School L7 6HE
St. Anne’s Catholic Primary School L7 3HJ
Smithdown Primary L7 6LJ
St. Silas CE Primary L8 3TR
Holy Family Catholic Primary School L8 6QB
Windsor Primary School L8 8JE
Broadgreen International School L13 5UQ
Bank View High School L9 6AD
Greenbank Primary L18 1HG
Wellesbourne Primary L11 5AT
Palmerston School L17 6AU
Bellerive RC Academy L17 3AA
Hope Primary L14 8UD
Holy Trinity Primary L19 8JY
Middlefield Primary L24 2TL