From education to employment

UK’s largest public speaking competition to reach 11,000 more young people in London and Essex this year in new expansion

The Jack Petchey (@JPFoundation) “Speak Out” Challenge! is expanding this year to train an additional 11,000 young people in the art of public speaking. This will bring the total number of young people trained up to 35,000 across London and Essex this academic year.

Now in its 16th year, Jack Petchey’s “Speak Out” Challenge! is a well-known and loved part of school life for young people in London and Essex.  The programme provides a free full-day public speaking workshop for Year 10 students with expert trainers who work with the young people to develop their communication skills and empower them to speak up, listen, share their views and learn from each other.

The Challenge also includes a high profile competition to showcase young people’s voices through school assemblies, at Regional Finals and a Grand Final at a West End Theatre to celebrate young people’s passion and ideas.

The expansion comes shortly after the programme’s 15th anniversary as part of its mission to equip as many young people as possible with the confidence, skills and a platform to use their voice to bring about positive changes in the world around them. It gives schools the opportunity to receive free workshops for their entire Year 10 cohort to receive this training and progress on to the competition.

Sir Jack Petchey CBE, aged 96, Founder of the Jack Petchey Foundation, said: “Young people have seen a lot of disruption and missed opportunities in the last 18 months due to the COVID pandemic. But they are the key to a positive future. I trust in their ability to help us build back better, and so wanted to give even more young people the tools and confidence to be able to express themselves. I’m so excited to see Jack Petchey’s “Speak Out” Challenge! reach even more young people to teach them public speaking skills, communication and confidence. Now’s the time we need to listen to young people, so let’s give them a platform for their voices to be heard!”

Russell Findlay, CEO of Speakers Trust, said: “Speakers Trust and Jack Petchey Foundation share a vision for every young person to be able to speak and be heard, and to believe in themselves. We are thrilled that this year we can offer Jack Petchey’s “Speak Out” Challenge! to more young people than ever before. We think that communication skills are more important now than they have ever been, and we look forward to reaching more young people with the opportunity to learn, develop and share their uplifting speeches in a public forum.”

Since it started in 2006, a total of 211,809 students have been trained in public speaking and 545 competitions have been organised for young people in London and Essex. Young people’s speeches explore a wide range of topics, from human rights to the power of humour to organ donation to disability to the power within and much more!

The 2020 winner’s speech at our digital Grand Final, about the generation gap: 


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