In late 2015, UEL students studying education and performing arts began delivering weekly participatory drama workshops to young pupils in four Newham schools. The workshops were designed to help the children improve their social and communication skills.
“A project such as our Speech Bubbles workshops, which helps children develop their confidence and 'voice' through story drama, and which allows our students to share their skills with the local community, sits at the heart of the civic engagement mission of UEL,” said the Head of Performing Arts at UEL, Dr Sheila Preston.
Spearheaded by Dr Preston, Newham Speech Bubbles is an expansion of the award-winning Speech Bubbles programme, run by the London Bubble Theatre Company.
The London-wide initiative reports remarkable success. Teacher assessments show that following Speech Bubbles activity, 85 per cent of children show improvement in their speaking, listening and learning, while 90 per cent of children show improvement in emotional conduct and behaviour.
Plans call for Newham Speech Bubbles to expand to more schools in the community, helping an even greater number of youngsters discover their ‘voices’. UEL students also benefit, gaining increased confidence and employable skills.
“The fact that you’ve committed to being a volunteer for a whole year shows that you’re a responsible person. There’s a lot of things you can tick off for prospective employers,” said third-year UEL student Jo Afful, who is studying education.