Sixth Formers Speak Up for the ESU
The first three heats of the annual East Region Sixth Form Public Speaking Competition 2019 were held in the week beginning 7 October 2019.
Bedford School generously hosted the West Anglia division, fittingly held in the Memorial Hall, which was built to commemorate lives lost in World Wars, the implications of which were a motivation of our organization’s founders. The event was contested by four teams, one from the host school, one from The Perse in Cambridge and two from St Clement Danes in Hertfordshire. ESU Governor, Ellen Punter, and English Language examiner, Gary Cousins, judged The Perse team to be the winners with St Clement Danes Team 1 as runners-up. The winning team comprised chair, Neil Sardesai, questioner, Wendy Hau and speaker, Rizwaan Baig, who argued that Britain should reintroduce grammar schools in the interests of social mobility.
The Suffolk and Norfolk heat was held at the County Upper School, Bury St Edmunds, who kindly provided their spacious hall and refreshments for the contest. Six teams competed, two from the hosts, two from neighbours, St Benedict’s Catholic School, and two from Wymondham High Academy, Norfolk. A range of current and controversial topics were presented to adjudicators, the Rt Rev Dr Mike Harrison, Bishop of Dunwich, and former teacher and councillor, Annesley Hardy. The winning team was St Benedict’s Team ‘Z’, comprising chair, Emily Bickers, questioner, Emily Black and speaker Alfred Dry, who gave evidence that human morality was partly a product of natural selection. The runners-up were Wymondham High Team 1, whose speaker, Lucy Wimhurst, outlined the positives from sibling rivalry.
The third heat took place at the invitation of regular hosts of the competition, Felsted School, who graciously lent their theatre as the stage for the Essex event. Two teams from the home school were in competition with two from King Edward VI Grammar School, Chelmsford, and one from Westcliff High School for Boys. Primary school public speaking pioneer, Nicky Browne, and artist and lecturer, Christopher Meigh-Andrews announced King Edward VI Team 2 as the winners with Westcliff High as runners-up in a notably close contest. The winning team was made up of chair, Jaimin Shah, questioner, Jonathan Wellers and speaker, Scarlett Morine, who constructed and delivered a convincing case against the undermining of comic-book heroes as role models in the pursuit of sensationalism. Tayo Adewole from King Edward VI Team 1 had previously presented a powerful and coherent philosophical exhortation to aim for the utopian.
The winning team from each of these heats progresses to the regional final at The Perse School, Cambridge, on Monday 18 November at 5.00pm. The competition has been organized by the Colchester & Essex branch on behalf of the East Region.