Since last autumn, over 5,000 children have taken part in Voice Box – the joke-telling competition for schools in England and Scotland. Eighteen made it through to the final at Portcullis House, Westminster in London on 30 April 2019, with Nick Smith MP acting as Master of Ceremonies. One of them was local schoolboy James Isted from Southwark, London.
James, age 8, who attends St John the Divine Church of England Primary School, in Camberwell, delighted the packed audience of politicians, parents and children with his joke:
One night, after bedtime, a boy came downstairs and asked his Mum and Dad for a glass of water. They gave it to him and he carefully carried it back upstairs. This happened two more times. On his fourth trip downstairs his Mum said: “You must be very thirsty,” to which the boy replied: “Oh no, my bed is on fire.”
James was presented with a Voice Box certificate and goodie bag for making it through to the final.
Asked what he would like to be when he grows up, James responded: “I want to make games, like Minecraft.”
Voice Box is an annual competition, organised by the Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists (RCSLT) and partnered by National Association of Head Teachers. It aims to remind people that there are children in every classroom who need support to help them speak and understand what is being said to them.
More than 10% of children and young people have long term speech, language and communication needs which create barriers to communication or learning in everyday life. This includes 7.6% of children who start school with developmental language disorder – a condition where children have problems understanding or using spoken language, with no obvious reason for these difficulties – and 2.3% who have difficulties associated with another condition, such as autism or hearing impairment.
RCSLT Chief Executive Officer Kamini Gadhok MBE added: “In every classroom there will be between two and three children with communication difficulties. The Voice Box competition helps teachers, children and parents to focus on the impact effective communication can have on a child’s social and emotional well-being.”