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Home > News and views > South Hampstead High School wins English-Speaking Union’s Oracy Culture Award 2020 

South Hampstead High School wins English-Speaking Union’s Oracy Culture Award 2020 


We are delighted to announce South Hampstead High School as the winner of this year’s ESU Oracy Culture Award. 

Since September 2018 South Hampstead High School has doubled the provision of debating clubs each week and tripled the number of students involved. It has also more than doubled the number of external speaking and debating competitions it takes part in (to 15) and has put significant effort into outreach activities working with a total of 14 other schools – most of them state schools – to encourage wider participation in debating in the local community.  

‘As we are a single-sex school for girls, we felt it was particularly important to encourage our students to become confident in expressing their views,’ says Kate Etheridge, Director of Debating and Public Speaking at the school. ‘Our engagement with the ESU has been a key catalyst for our promotion of debating and oracy. We have hosted regional rounds of the ESU’s Mace and Public Speaking Competitions which have been a brilliant way for us to make further links with local schools. This has been invaluable both for our students, who have appreciated the opportunity to get to know children from other places, and for our partner schools.’ 

Chair of judges, Gavin Illsley, ESU Head of Programmes, said, ‘We commend South Hampstead High School for the way it has fostered a sense of community around debating and public speaking, and how they have created an impressive culture of inter-year collaboration. Its inclusive approach, both in school and in its outreach work, has allowed many students who may not otherwise have had the opportunity, to gain the confidence and skill to speak in public and to broaden their understanding of the world.’ 

The judges would like to commend all entrants for the fantastic work they are doing to create a sustainable culture of oracy across their curricula and in the wider community. As winner, South Hampstead High School receives a trophy and a free Discover Your Voice session for up to 24 students.  

The following schools were all also highly commended by the judges: 

  • Archbishop Beck Catholic College, Liverpool
  • Clapton Girls’ Academy
  • Eden Boys’ School, Bolton
  • English Martyrs’ Catholic School, Leicester
  • Notting Hill and Ealing High School
  • Oxford Spires Academy
  • St. Louise’s Comprehensive College, Belfast
  • St Marks Catholic High School, Hounslow
  • The Bishop’s Stortford High School
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