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Home > News and views > Scottish teacher wins inaugural International Oracy Teacher Award

Scottish teacher wins inaugural International Oracy Teacher Award

New award from the English-Speaking Union recognises excellence in oracy teaching around the world

We are delighted to announce Robbie McDonald, a history and debate teacher from Broxburn Academy, Scotland, as the winner of the inaugural ESU International Oracy Teacher Award. In his application, Robbie highlighted not only the importance of oracy (speaking and listening skills), but its power – the confidence that can come from being able to express oneself well. He draws particular attention to the way oracy skills enable young women to push against an education system which so often holds them back from leadership and expression.

We’re also pleased to congratulate Maia Tkemaladze, an English teacher from Sachkhere Public School, Georgia, who takes the runner-up spot. Teaching in a rural village, Maia noticed how disadvantaged her students were, in comparison with those living in the bigger cities, due to the lack of opportunity for communication with native English speakers. Through introducing debating into her classroom, Maia’s students not only developed their public speaking and critical thinking skills, but they were also given more opportunity to travel to debate camps and competitions.

The judging panel was overwhelmed by the response to this new award and were delighted by the passion, knowledge and dedication shown through the applications. Judges’ Chair, Professor Neil Mercer, Director of Oracy Cambridge, emphasised that ‘the success of oracy education depends on the efforts and expertise of dedicated, knowledgeable teachers; and the two finalists are excellent examples of such practitioners. It is heart-warming to hear how both have helped young people who have not had the benefit of a privileged social upbringing to find their voices and use them to good effect.’

The International Oracy Teacher Award, launched during the ESU’s centenary year, aims to recognise educational excellence and outreach in the field of oracy across the diverse ESU global network. Through this award, the ESU seeks to celebrate, encourage and develop the work of international teachers who are helping to generate social impact through the advancement of English oracy skills in their students. Both this year’s winner and runner-up will receive financial grants to enable them to further the impact and reach of their work, and we’re delighted to be able to support them in this endeavour.

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