Voice Box is a national initiative for mainstream and special primary schools which reminds people that all children need support to build their communication skills and confidence and that 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).
In order to share good practice between schools that specialise in supporting children with speech, language and communication needs a group of teachers in the greater Belfast area meet each term. Two of these schools chose to take part in this year’s Voice Box competition.
Lyn Bruton, vice-principal of Thornfield House School said: “The school decided to take part in the competition as standing up in front of their peers and making them laugh was a lovely chance to build the children’s confidence in their ability to engage in public speaking.
“The inclusive nature of the competition was also a huge draw, as although communication difficulties are relatively common, it is a hidden disorder of which there is still very little public awareness.”
Olivia Conlon, coordinator of St Teresa’s Speech and Language Centre added: “The children thoroughly enjoyed taking part and staff now notice the children telling jokes to each other at break time and play time.
“It provided opportunities to develop ICT skills as the children used Green Screen to record their friends telling jokes in a theatre setting. Parents, speech therapists and teaching staff were all impressed by the children’s confidence when performing.”
Each school had their own judging panel who chose the funniest joke to be submitted on behalf of their school.
Declan McGinley’s joke was chosen to represent Thornfield House School and Darragh Lanigan’s joke was chosen to represent St Teresa’s Primary School.
A spokesperson for the schools added: “Although this means that Declan and Darragh are now competing against each other, it would be fantastic to see a child from either of our schools chosen to go through to the next stage of the competition – the grand final in London 2020.”