School in Ipswich to teach students how to have a face-to-face conversation

Helen Winn, principal of Ipswich Academy. Picture: ANDREW PAPWORTH

Helen Winn, principal of Ipswich Academy. Picture: ANDREW PAPWORTH


In a world of WhatsApp, Messenger and Snapchat, it can be all too easy for the young generation to stay in touch with friends and family by hardly saying a word. But now a school in Ipswich is preparing to teach students the value of a good, old-fashioned, face-to-face conversation – so they feel more confident talking to adults in the real world.

While Ipswich Academy has stressed its students are already good all-round communicators, it is trialling a new "talk for learn" programme from September to further bolster their skills.

In a world dominated by technology and social media, it wants to "make sure they are really confident with talking publicly or at a social occasion".

The new sessions from September will teach youngsters how to speak in a variety of situations, from job interviews to presentations and speeches.

It will also include advice on speaking at social events, debating and answering questions.

While it might seem a straightforward thing to teach young people, Helen Winn - principal at the Brazier's Wood Road academy - said: "We want to make sure they are really confident with talking publicly or at a social occasion.

"What is important is that every single one of our students can do what they want to do and that there aren't any barriers to that.

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"We never want them to be in a situation in their adult life where they're worried about doing something because there is an element they might not have experienced before.

"They need to be able to communicate their talents and put themselves forward in an appropriate way as well.

"Their communication isn't restricted to social media and we're developing those traditional communication skills."

The new programme will be piloted at the Paradigm Trust school in the autumn.

If successful, it will be rolled out across all of the academy's 900 pupils.

Ipswich Academy was rated as "good" by Ofsted in March this year after several years of being criticised in inspections by education regulator Ofsted.

In recent years the school has made a number of changes to improve standards, such as a new lesson structure and clear boundaries for dealing with bad behaviour.

Mrs Winn has been praised by Ofsted for her "clear, ambitious vision" and won principal of the year at Suffolk's Raising the Bar Awards 2019, designed to recognise high achievement in schools across the county.

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