School Children urged to share a joke

(September 21, 2016)

Mark is supporting Voice Box, an annual joke-telling competition designed by the Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists (RCSLT) and The Communication Trust which helps to build schoolchildren’s communication skills.

Seven percent of children aged around five years old have a specific speech and language impairment and a further 1.8% have speech, language and communication needs linked to other conditions such as a learning disability, cerebral palsy and autism spectrum disorders.

This autumn, mainstream and specialist primary schools across the country are invited to bring laughter into their classrooms by taking part in the Voice Box competition. Schools should hold joke-telling contests between October and November and then submit their pupil’s funniest joke to the RCSLT by 1 December for a chance to go through to a grand final to be held at Mr Speaker’s House in the Palace of Westminster, London, in 2017.

The pupil with the ultimate winning joke will receive an iPad mini, while two runners-up will each receive national book tokens worth £50.

The RCSLT has developed a toolkit with useful resources, ideas and a nomination form for schools to download via

Mark said: “I am delighted to be lending my support to this campaign. Speaking and listening are crucial life skills that are acquired well before children start their first day at school.  However, some children start school with a language impairment and for many this has gone undetected for a long time before it gets picked up by professionals at school. This competition is aimed at raising awareness about communication amongst children and young people and that is why I have written to all primary schools in my constituency to encourage them to take part.”

RCSLT CEO, Ms Kamini Gadhok MBE, says: “The aim of the Voice Box competition is to remind people that 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.

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

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