'Grunting Teenagers' Should Be Taught To Talk, Says Head Teacher

14/08/2014 17:00 | Updated 20 May 2015

Grunting teenagers Alamy

Schools should provide lessons to combat the image of the 'grunting, monosyllabic teenager', according to Tony Blair's former speechwriter.

Peter Hyman, who is now head teacher of a free school in Newham, east London, said speaking skills should be placed at the heart of the timetable to address concerns from employers that school leavers 'can't string a sentence together'.

In an interview with the Times Educational Supplement, Mr Hyman, said clear communication was the 'number one issue' for employers.

He said: "Speaking eloquently is a moral issue because to find your voice both literally and metaphorically and be able to communicate your ideas and your passions is crucial to how they are going to be a success in the world.

"If you can speak and articulate yourself properly that will happen.

"But it's also the number one issue that employers put in all their surveys: they want good oral communication.

"We've got to dispel the myth of the grunting teenager, the monosyllabic teenager that make employers say, 'I've got this person who I know on paper is quite good, but they can't string a sentence together'."

Mr Hyman, who worked for Mr Blair for 10 years and ran his strategic communications unit from 2001 to 2003, said children in his schools were encouraged to talk to each other, question teachers and hold debates.

He added: "I think there's too much of a fashion now of saying 'the quieter the better, that shows you've got behaviour under control'.

"I think that is completely the wrong way to go and we've got to put speaking up there on a completely equal footing with reading and writing."


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