Bristol MP heads back to school to teach pupils how to ‘own the room’

The sessions are to help equip children from all backgrounds with public speaking skills
Bristol North West MP Darren Jones is well-known for his clear and concise way of speaking about complex topicsBristol North West MP Darren Jones is well-known for his clear and concise way of speaking about complex topics
Bristol North West MP Darren Jones is well-known for his clear and concise way of speaking about complex topics

A Bristol MP is taking what he has learned from speaking in the House of Commons to the classroom to help equip children from all backgrounds with public speaking skills.

From mid-October, Darren Jones MP will visit secondary schools in Bristol North West to deliver ‘Speak like you own the room’ sessions to students in Years 9-11.

Mr Jones, who is well-known for his clear and concise way of speaking about complex topics, will host the sessions at schools in his constituency of Bristol North West and state schools are especially encouraged to get involved.

Mr Jones, who grew up in a council flat in Lawrence Weston, says the now defunct Gifted and Talented programme, which offered extra support for academically gifted students in state schools, helped him to be the first in his family to go to university.

Mr Jones said: “For everyone to feel truly represented in politics and business, we need people from all backgrounds to enter these professions. Yet public speaking – a quintessential skill for speaking in Parliament or the boardroom – is not generally taught in state schools.

“I’m thankful that the Gifted and Talented programme raised my aspirations when I was in school. On a smaller scale, I hope I can do the same for our schoolchildren; to show that someone who went to a state school, just like them, can hold the attention of an entire room when they speak.”

As part of his new campaign, Mr Jones has attracted the largest public speaking competition for schools in England and Wales, the English-Speaking Union’s ESU-Churchill Public Speaking Competition, to host a branch final in Bristol North West in early 2024.

Jane Easton, Director-General of the English-Speaking Union, said: “We are delighted Mr Jones recognises the importance of engaging schoolchildren in public speaking. We look forward to welcoming many first-time competitors from Bristol North West for this year’s contest.”

Teachers working in secondary schools in Bristol North West can book a free session for their class with Mr Jones by emailing [email protected].

The deadline to register for the ESU-Churchill Public Speaking Competition is September 27 and costs £55 per team, or £35 per entry for state schools with more than 25% of students on free school meals and/or with English as an additional language.