We Speak graduated from Cambridge Social Ventures in September 2019.
Over 50% of pupils don’t feel confident sharing ideas in class (Millard and Menzies, 2016). To make things worse, students from lower income backgrounds are twice as likely to have communication difficulties (Sage, 2006).
We Speak breaks down this barrier. They help 15-19 year-olds with lower speaking confidence find their authentic voice and use it to unlock life opportunities. They want young people to speak comfortably in a range of situations, from participating in class to speaking in a job interview.
We Speak transforms students’ speaking confidence. In a programme at Mossbourne Community Academy, 91% of students felt more confident speaking. Students with low speaking confidence experienced a 30-70% rise in their confidence.
A teacher from Central Foundation Boys’ School said: “It was lovely to see students who are normally quiet in school participating and having great discussions with their peers”.
Laura North is the Founder of We Speak. She has a long-standing fear of speaking in front of groups and feels passionately about removing this barrier for others.
Laura has been developing speaking confidence with students for almost ten years, primarily in higher education, where she was awarded a Fellowship at the University of the Arts London and a Teaching Award. We Speak was developed with the support of the School for Social Entrepreneurs and the Teach First Innovation Series, where it was a winner of the Teach First Dragon’s Den.
At the heart of We Speak is a team of University Student Facilitators, who establish a supportive environment for workshop participants, while developing their own self-confidence: “My experience at We Speak has made me feel more confident about my ability to achieve. I have started to master something I never thought I could: speaking in front of groups.” (Juwairiah, Student Facilitator)
We Speak provides opportunities for 15-19-year-old young people to practice speaking, to help close the gap in university applications and employment opportunities for young people from disadvantaged backgrounds. Participants:
- develop speaking confidence so they are more prepared for education and employment opportunities
- improve self-confidence so they feel positive about their options
- establish connections with university students, increasing the likelihood of university applications
- communicate comfortably with employers, increasing confidence around career options.
We Speak works with schools with a high proportion of students eligible for free school meals, and focuses on those students who have lower speaking confidence. The programme creates a tangible step towards a fairer and more balanced society. They’re working with schools, universities and employers to create a pipeline of young people who can communicate confidently.