Speaking up with Voice 21 – Farah’s Story
6 December 2016: posted by BigChange
Farah is a year 11 student at School 21 who has participated in the Voice 21 Oracy curriculum first hand. As a young girl, Farah struggled with her confidence, and thanks to Voice 21 she has been able to find her voice and use it to help those around her. Farah is just one wonderful example of how the work of Voice 21 empowers young people realise their potential and contribute to their communities in a meaningful way. Read more about her experience in her blog here.
Everyone’s struggle is different as their experiences are different, and for me, just like many others, I had massive confidences issue when I was younger.
The story begins when I was about 7 years old. I’d just moved back to the UK after 3 years living abroad, and I had my year two SAT’s in 5 months. Two completely different education systems, two completely different outlooks on life and I was worried about not making any friends.
That’s the first time I remember hiding in my shell. In school, even if I needed help, I wouldn’t put my hand up in fear that I’d be laughed at by my peers. I was so scared about being in the spotlight that I would actively find ways for me to be at the back of the class and stay out of group discussions.
As the years went on I made good friends and started to open up a little bit more. Although I would still not go to an adult for help, based on the fear that they would judge me for not understanding.
When I went shopping with my mum, I couldn’t ask a sales assistant where I could find something, even though I knew they would be willing to help. I was so scared! My family did a lot to try and push me out of my comfort zone, but their attempts just resulted in me hiding even more.
But as the end of year 6 came along I knew it was time for us to leave the secure place we had built and go to secondary school. I can’t even begin to explain the fear that was running through my head at the time, especially when I found out I was one of only three from my school going to School 21. I had to start over, again.
I know what you’re thinking ‘starting over isn’t always a bad thing’… that’s what I thought too.
I believed that I could be a better, a confident, improved version of myself; after all nobody here knew me. But as secondary started and there was a sea of confused, scary and new faces I started to retreat into my old self. I realized that I wasn’t going to change overnight.
On the first week of school we had an Oracy lesson. At first I was annoyed – I didn’t want to talk in front of the class, for years I’d been trying to do the exact opposite!
Yet as I sat in class with my teacher who taught with such passion, pushing me to work in groups of 3,4,5’s where I had to talk to everyone and finally realized that they were going through the same thing as me. As the lessons continued I was not as scared to speak out, I started to contribute more in class and when nobody laughed at me, a newfound confidence grew within.
Since that first Oracy lesson I have been able to more eloquently put my thoughts into words, I have been able to communicate my ideas with my peers, teachers and even strangers. I am not afraid anymore because I was given the tools to build up my confidence. I’m fifteen now and I have used the skills that I have learnt in a variety of different situations, both in and out of school.
I have been part of the Junior Leadership Team and acted as a voice for the students at School 21; I have shown head teachers, OFSTED inspectors, and visitors around the school; I won my prosecution case against other schools at the Junior Magistrate Court; performed and hosted exhibitions in my school, and gave ignite speeches in front of audiences which include my peers, parents and visitors.
Recently, I have done work experience at the department of education, which ran over the course of 18 weeks, I worked in a team of professionals and contributed my own point of view and opinions and used my Oracy skills to present to Nicky Morgan, Chris Wormald and a room full of civil servants. I have been able to confidently mentor students in karate (a hobby of mine), and I am now confident when talking to new people.
Oracy has definitely helped me out of my shell and I can only imagine the opportunities that will come from it.”