Public Speaking Round-Up

Senior and Intermediate Youth Speaks Competitions, plus ESU Mace

Date published: Tue 5 Dec 2017   Author: HLH/ADF   Category: News   Share: Share on facebookShare on TwitterShare on MySpaceShare by Email

Public Speakers ‘Do The Double’

November has been a very successful month for TBSHS public speakers. In the Senior section (Years 10 to 13) of the Bishop’s Stortford Rotary Club’s “Youth Speaks” competition, the Sixth Form team included two members of last year’s winning trio, so hopes were high. True to form Jack Boulter (Year 13), the Chairman, gave an assured, welcoming performance, introducing his colleagues and the topic, “Do We Have To Vote?” with a couple of dreadful puns. Main speaker Millie Mitchell (also Year 13) delivered a well-measured and persuasive speech in favour of compulsory voting without so much as a glance at her notes. She made very good use of voting statistics to support her opinion that compulsion would hugely increase the legitimacy of elected politicians and argued that voting is a civil duty. She also gave an excellent answer to a rather rambling question from a member of the audience. Max Hadley (Year 12) was making his competition debut, but this was not apparent from his confident vote of thanks. He performed all the functions of his role perfectly, assuring the audience that if Millie were to stand for election he would vote for her, even it wasn’t compulsory.

Earlier in the evening our Year 11 team, coached by Mr Patterson, had also performed, along with five other teams from our hosts Bishop’s Stortford College (who fielded two teams), Leventhorpe School and Harlow schools Burnt Mill Academy & St. Nicholas’ School. Speaker James Gor was the only team member with previous “Youth Speaks” experience. In a passionate speech entitled “This House Is More 1984 Than It Is Ancient Greece” he attacked the procedures of the UK parliament, condemning them as outdated and inefficient. James was well supported by Chairman Scott Lockie and Christian Stimpson, who gave the vote of thanks.

After a short break for refreshments, the judges returned and announced that the TBSHS Sixth Form were the winners, a verdict with which I think everyone agreed.


A week later, two more High School teams went into battle in the Intermediate Section of the competition, along with St Nicholas’ School and  Herts & Essex High School (2 teams each), Bishop’s Stortford College, Burnt Mill Academy and last year’s winners Birchwood High School. Drawn to speak third, the TBSHS Year 8 team (coached by Mr Shortland) addressed the topic “Technologies That Will Change The World”. Chairman Sammy Shaw introduced a very well-constructed speech by Harrison Pegg, in which he reminded the audience that nowadays we are all reliant on technology and extolled the virtues of driverless cars. A solid team performance was completed by Thomas Walker’s vote of thanks.

Next up was Miss Davies’ Year 9 team, who had competed in 2016 but had changed roles this year. Introducing the topic “The Magic of Music”, Chairman Finn Lihoreau got the presentation off to a lively start, reminding the audience of the historical importance of music and telling them all about the musical tastes of his team mates. Main Speaker Elliot Wood then gave a really impressive performance, covering the benefits of music in relieving stress (“as good as chocolate, but better for the waistline”!), its importance in triggering memories, especially for Alzheimer’s patients and ways in which music can aid learning right across the school curriculum. A confident, entertaining vote of thanks from Finn Aylott that rightly praised the range of Elliot’s speech and included some amusing musical puns rounded off a superb team performance, all of it delivered without any notes at all.

Although the competition was fierce, I felt that our Year 9 team had won and my confidence was vindicated when they were placed first, with Burnt Mill in second place. They and the Sixth Form team now progress to their respective District Finals at Chelmsford in March. Congratulations to all our speakers and their coaches for all the hard work they put into the competition and many thanks to all the families who came to support them.


Sixth Form Debating - ESU Mace

The English Speaking Union’s Mace is Britain’s oldest debating competition for schools and one in which TBSHS has reached the Regional Final for the past three years. This year we volunteered to host a first round heat, with three schools from Cambridge and one from Brentwood joining us for a lively evening of debating.

The first motion was “This House would add E-sports to the Olympic Games”, proposed by Parkside Community College and opposed by a young team from Heritage School. After a low-key start, this debate warmed up due to some more forceful speeches from the second speaker for each side and some excellent contributions in the floor debate.

TBSHS, in the persons of Charles Lockie and Tiegan Meadows (both in Year 13), appeared in the second debate, opposing the motion “This House would pay all elected politicians the median wage in their country”, with The Perse School  as the Proposition. The first speaker for the latter gave a confident performance, arguing that implementing the motion would make them more sympathetic to the plight of lower paid workers. In a fluent and well thought out speech, Charles countered this by pointing out that one’s upbringing and previous life experience were much greater factors in this process. He then went on to explain why politicians deserve an above average salary for doing a difficult and responsible job, backing this point up with references to economic studies. The second speaker from The Perse argued that the proposal would save money and raised the issue of low pay for many public sector workers such as nurses. Tiegan, in her usual passionate style, examined the likely consequences of the motion, with the electorate being represented by rich ‘hobby politicians’ or people for whom politics would be just one of several jobs that they had. Either of these, she argued, would prove worse, not better, representation for their. After the floor debate Charles gave an excellent summary speech, which was notable for its range and clear structure.

The final debate of the evening saw Becket Keys Church of England School proposing This House would introduce a year of compulsory, non-military national service after Year 13 (or equivalent) against a ‘swing’ team from Parkside Community College. The former argued that this measure would give young people valuable work experience, as well as benefiting the public sector. The Opposition expressed concerns that adults could lose their jobs and questioned the morality of the compulsory nature of the motion.

After refreshments, the ESU adjudicator announced that the three schools going through to the second round were Becket Keys, TBSHS and The Perse. Our team members were praised for the quality of their research, especially the telling use of figures, and their ability to listen and respond to their opponents. I felt that Tiegan and Charles certainly deserved to progress, although there are areas of their debating that they will need to improve for the next round- fortunately they will have more time to prepare and rehearse for that. Thanks and congratulations to them

Many thanks are due to Mr Patterson for making all the arrangements for the evening and chairing a debate, to the Sixth Formers who came along to support (several of whom acted as Chair or timekeeper for a debate) and to the teachers who found the time to attend, despite the prospect of Sixth Form Open Evening the day after.


Rotary Club Concert

Fresh from their triumph in the first round of “Youth Speaks”, Year 13 students Millie Mitchell and Jack Boulter travelled to Chelmsford to appear at a Rotary Club concert in aid of the charities Changing Pathways (a domestic abuse charity) and Age UK Essex. This seasonal event included carols, musical performances from winners of Rotary “Young Musicians” Competitions and readings. Jack and Millie had been invited to read the winning pieces from the Rotary Club’s national “Young Writer” competition. They performed superbly, speaking clearly, unhurriedly and very expressively.

Many thanks and congratulations go to both of them for representing the school so well.