ESU South Wales branch sponsors a primary school oracy workshop and competition hosted by Howell’s School in Cardiff
Written by Ellie Bristow, Chair of the ESU South Wales Young Persons’ Committee
Following a COVID19-induced two-year break, the South Wales branch of the ESU was thrilled to be back at Howell’s School in Llandaff for the Cardiff-based primary schools oracy workshop and competition. The workshop took place on Thursday, 17 March in Howell’s Great Hall and was attended by eight local primary schools, each of whom brought along 10 of their Year 5 pupils. The workshop was led by Howell’s English teacher, Mr Tom Walters, and comprised a series of tongue twister challenges and activities which focused on how to write and present a persuasive speech. Initially, pupils worked with children from other schools and practised how to introduce themselves and use their voices to find similarities in interests and hobbies. They then moved back to their own school teams to start to construct some persuasive arguments on a variety of practice topics. The pupils took on every challenge thrown at them with great enthusiasm!
At the end of the workshop, I explained to the pupils how an ESU competition works. We thought about the different roles that make up a public speaking team. Afterwards, one pupil from each school came to the front of the hall to draw out their team’s competition topic. Pupils then had two weeks to prepare their speeches, think about how to introduce one another and manage time, and practice their quizzing skills.
The competition took place on 30 March and the judging panel was astounded by the quality, maturity and confidence of the young people we heard speak. Every team commanded the audience’s attention, managed both opposing team and audience questions with incredible consideration, and used emotive language, intonation, gestures, body language, facts, and rhetorical questions to convince us of their argument. From why every pupil in Wales should learn basic British Sign Language to why trees should not be cut down to make way for more houses, we learnt something new about every topic.
After much (very difficult!) deliberating, the judging panel deemed Baden Powell Primary School the winners of the competition. Their speech on why assemblies should be run by pupils really worked to engage the audience and persuaded us all that actually, in addition to building pupils’ confidence in speaking, and learning about individuals’ heritages and cultures, pupil led assemblies do sound rather fun! The competition runners-up were Howell’s Prep School and in third place, Whitchurch Primary School. Overall, it was a fantastic competition and every young person left with a participation certificate and, we hope, a newfound confidence in their brilliant and very important voice.
The ESU South Wales branch would like to say a huge thank you to the staff and students who participated in this competition. A special thanks to Howell’s School for hosting and organising a fantastic event. Da iawn i bawb a diolch yn fawr iawn i chi gyd!
Feedback from all the schools has been positive with a teacher at Llanederyn writing in to say ‘Thank you so much for inviting us to the English-Speaking Union’s Event. Our children, staff and parents enjoyed it immensely. Quote from one of our pupils: “I was terrified before it started but when I was speaking, I just wanted it to go on forever and never stop.” I think that says it all.’
Results in full
First place team: Baden Powell Primary School
Second place team: Howell’s Prep School
Third place team: Whitchurch Primary School
Best Speaker awarded to Whitchurch Primary School
Highly commended Speaker awarded to Baden Powell Primary School
Best Chairperson awarded to Llanederyn Primary School
Highly commended Chairperson awarded to Kitchener Primary School
Best Questioner awarded to Lansdowne Primary School
Highly commended Questioner awarded to St. Mary’s Catholic Primary School