A Brief History

The ESU was founded by writer and journalist Sir Evelyn Wrench after the horrors of the First World War. Sir Evelyn felt that if the world was able to communicate more effectively, global understanding between nations would improve. English became a unifying language. His ideas are as relevant today as they were then. People who knew Sir Evelyn personally said that he had an energy and idealism that drove things forward. In the courtyard of Dartmouth House, in honour of his work, is the engraving "What others have dreamed, he has done".

International friendship and understanding is at the heart of all we do at the ESU. Throughout our work ,there is a strong focus on young people - enabling them to utilise the skills of public speaking and debate to become confident communicators. As a membership organisation we offer the opportunity to be part of a global network, bringing people together to consider different ideas and to ponder the intricate richness of the English language.

Discovering Voices

The vision for the charity is that in a world where English is a global language, the ESU equips young people with the skills and confidence to articulate their ideas and share them with others. Through our educational programmes and international opportunities, we help them discover their voice.

The ESU helps young people to engage with ideas both in the classroom and in their everyday lives. Our main teaching programme is called Discover Your Voice. It enables young people to participate in speaking and listening activities at all key stages and across all schools in the UK. We run a national and international Public Speaking Competition, organise a summer school Debate Academy and organise the UK's largest annual national Shakespeare competition for secondary school students.Through our exchange programmes, scholarships and internships we enable young people to visit places they have only ever dreamed of going.


participants in our teaching programmes in 2015

Educational aims

Our ESU education programmes and projects enable a wide range of people to discover their voice. Central to our mission is a commitment to working with schools and young people to narrow gaps in opportunity and achievement.

Our aims are:

- We will ensure broad access to our programmes and projects across a range of geographical areas and with a particular focus on disadvantaged young people.

- We will establish Discover Your Voice as the core programme of the ESU, ensuring that this and other elements of our educational provision mutually reinforce each other.

- We will develop ESU programmes/projects as sustainable long-term interventions, with measurable impact as a central tenet.

- We will establish the ESU as a thought leader in speaking and listening in education.

- We will establish the ESU as a brand which inspires and motivates young people to discover their voice.

- We will support ESU branches in the realisation of our vision and missions, through collaboration, communication and support.

- We will inspire and assist International ESUs in developing and delivering their programmes in line with our own vision and mission.