Nicky backs joke competition for primary schools aimed at improving children's communication skills

Nicky Morgan MP is supporting Voice Box, an annual joke-telling competition designed by the Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists (RCSLT) to build schoolchildren’s communication skills. This year’s competition is being run in partnership with NAHT (National Association of Head Teachers).

Over 10% of children start school with some form of language disorder. Undetected or unmet speech, language and communication problems can lead to low levels of literacy, poor educational attainment, poorer mental health and wellbeing and, in turn, difficulties finding employment, and life chances.

Mainstream and specialist primary schools across England and Scotland are invited to bring laughter into their classrooms this autumn by taking part in the competition. Schools should hold their joke-telling contests between October and November and then submit their pupil’s funniest joke to the RCSLT by 30 November for a chance to go through to a grand final at Westminster, London, in 2019.

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

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

Nicky says: “Being able to communicate effectively is so important for all of us; and developing skills from an early age is absolutely vital in building character. What better way can there be in improving communication skills than making classmates and teachers smile with a funny joke?

“If you’re entering Voice Box, and see me around town in the next couple of weeks, please do stop me to practice your one-liners; I would love to hear your best ones!”

RCSLT CEO, 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, employment prospects and life chances. It impacts on how we interact with other people, how we understand them and, in turn, how we are understood.”