Voice Box in England and Scotland

What is Voice Box?

Voice Box is a UK-wide joke competition for schools, which reminds people that all children need support to build their communication skills and confidence and some need additional specialist help to speak and/or understand what is being said to them. The competition is run by the Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists (RCSLT).

What will happen in England and Scotland?

  • We are inviting mainstream and special primary schools in England and Scotland to hold joke competitions in October and November 2018 to find their pupil’s funniest joke. (NB – Schools in Northern Ireland and Wales will be invited to take part in separate competitions in due course.)
  • All primary school pupils based in England and Scotland are eligible to participate.
  • Schools should submit their pupil’s funniest joke to the RCSLT by Friday 30 November 2018 for the chance to go through to the Grand Final in London next year.
  • Our judging panel will then shortlist the best jokes in December 2018.
  • We will try to notify schools whose jokes have been selected to go through to the Grand Final by the end of December 2018.
  • Early in 2019, we will invite the shortlisted joke-tellers and their parent(s) or guardian(s) to the Grand Final.

Why take part in Voice Box?

Communication is a fundamental skill. It has the most profound and positive impact on our lives and contributes to our social and emotional development, behaviour, learning and educational attainment. It also impacts on how we interact with other people, how we understand them, and, in turn, how we are understood.

All children need support to build their communication skills and confidence and some need additional specialist help to speak and understand what is being said to them. So go on, get involved with Voice Box and help make a difference to children’s lives.

Some important points about communication

  • The largest group of children – around 7.5%, or two children in every classroom of 30 – have a language disorder that affects the way they understand and express language, which is not linked to another condition. In speech and language therapy, this is called ‘developmental language disorder’.
  • An additional 2.34% of children have a language disorder that is associated with another condition. These conditions include: learning disabilities, autism, cerebral palsy, brain injury, sensorineural hearing loss, and Down’s syndrome.
  • Every child has a basic right to communicate and they should be supported to do so.
  • All children need help to develop their skills to communicate from infancy and many children and young people benefit from extra help to improve their skills.
  • Communication difficulties severely limit a child’s participation in school, social and family life.
  • Speech and language therapists work with children to support their speech, language and communication needs, enabling them to reach their full potential.

How to run your school Voice Box competition

In our toolkit you will find everything you need to participate and run your own Voice Box competition, but if you have any queries, please do not hesitate to contact Josephine Olley, RCSLT’s PR Manager: josephine.olley@rcslt.org.

Here are some tips on how to hold a successful event:

  • The competition in England and Scotland runs from Monday 1 October to Friday 30 November 2018. So, decide on a date and time for when you will hold yours.
  • Think about different ways you can engage staff and pupils in the Voice Box joke competition. For example, you could hold a special assembly where teachers launch and promote the competition by telling jokes to the pupils. This could be followed by inter-class or inter-year group competitions, judged by teachers, your local MP or local celebrities. You might also consider running a series of classes or laughter workshops before your competition which discuss a range of subjects including how to make someone giggle, comic timing and delivery, the different sorts of jokes that exist, when it is appropriate to tell jokes and when it is not, and how to use comic props.
  • Confirm who will lead on and co-ordinate plans for the Voice Box competition.
  • Meet with other staff members and inform them about Voice Box. Perhaps they would like to join in and/or help with arrangements.
  • Talk to your speech and language therapist (if your school works with one) about your intention to take part in Voice Box. They can help you include all pupils in the competition, regardless of their communication ability.
  • Publicise the event to your pupils. Perhaps put posters up around your school or mention the competition in your school assembly.
  • Send a letter to parents/guardians. You can use the template we have provided in our toolkit. You might like to invite parents to watch the Voice Box competition.
  • Let your local media know that you are holding a Voice Box event. We have provided a template press release in our online toolkit. You can adapt this or write your own. If you would like contact details of your local media, please email josephine.olley@rcslt.org, or telephone her on 0207 378 3013. Please share your media release with Josephine so she can keep track of activity.
  • Identify a keen photographer to take pictures of your Voice Box competition and send them to your local media, but make sure you have the permission of parents/guardians for children and young people to be photographed and for the images to be published or shared.
  • Prepare your own Voice Box certificates (if you are using them) so the children will have something to take away with them. Use the template in our toolkit or use your own.
  • Choose a Voice Box judging panel. You could invite a local celebrity, councillor, or MP to be a judge and use the opportunity to raise awareness of your work. We have provided a template letter in our online toolkit for this purpose. It is worth approaching politicians as early as possible so they can book your event into their busy schedules. If your politician agrees to attend, please let the RCSLT’s Public Affairs Adviser, Peter Just, know. His email is: peter.just@rcslt.org and his telephone number is 0207 378 3630.

After your Voice Box event

  • We will shortlist the best jokes we receive and will try to notify schools whose jokes have been selected to go through to the Grand Final by the end of December 2018.

If you have any questions or require support in running a Voice Box event, please visit www.givingvoiceuk.org/voice-box and don’t hesitate to contact Josephine Olley, RCSLT’s PR Manager, by email: josephine.olley@rcslt.org or telephone: 0207 378 3013.

And, finally….Good luck!

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