Public Speaking Competition for Key Stage 3 & 4 students

ESU-Churchill National Public Speaking Competition for Schools

We're still taking last minute registrations in some areas!
If you are still keen to register, please contact Matthew Christmas, the Lead Organiser, at who can advise you of any remaining availability.
Some parts of England and Wales have fewer entries than others so we may still be able to accommodate your team. If Matthew has confirmed that there is space, please register here.
Please do not register without having spoken to Matthew as we may not be able to host you.

The ESU's Public Speaking Competition for Key Stage 3 & 4 students (years 9-11) challenges students to engage with wide-ranging cross-curricular topics, whilst helping to meet National Curriculum speaking and listening targets. It is the largest public speaking competition in England and Wales.

Public speaking is a vital life skill that students will use throughout their academic careers and in their everyday lives. Participants leave the competition having built confidence and experience in articulating their ideas and sharing them with others.

The competition is open to schools in England and Wales. We have over 25 regional ESU branches up and down England and Wales running competition heats, so it is easy and convenient to get your school involved.

At the bottom of this page you'll find:

  • Tips and tricks on how to prepare for the competition
  • A downloads section containing everything you need to know about how the competition works including handbooks, permission slips and guides to judging

If you have any questions, please contact Lead Organiser Matthew Christmas at

Teams and roles

Each team consists of three students - a Chairperson, a Questioner and a Speaker. Each role demands different but complementary skills.

During each round of the competition, the Chairperson and Questioner from one school are randomly selected to present with the Speaker from another school.

The speaker talks on a pre-agreed topic for a maximum of five minutes. During that time they must articulate their argument and demonstrate a wide knowledge of their subject. The questioner then takes over, challenging the speaker on points within their speech or seeking clarification or further details. The chairperson's role is to open and close proceedings, introduce their team, manage questions from both the questioner and the audience, and keep things running to time.

The different roles are judged by three experienced judges, often alumni of the competition itself or from related walks of life.

When and where does it take place?

The initial rounds of the competition take place in the autumn term and are run by our branches up and down the country. Once you have registered for the competition, you will be allocated to your nearest branch and they will be in contact to offer any assistance you may need.

Teams who are successful in their branch heats move on to regional heats. These take place in the spring term. Those who win their regional heats go through to the Grand Final at Churchill College, Cambridge which will be held on Saturday 27 April 2019.

For further information, you can download the key handbooks and other information in the Resources section below

What happens next?

Registration closes on Friday 19 October, so you may not hear from your Branch Public Speaking Coordinator for a little while. They will contact you as soon as dates for the competition heats are set, or earlier if we would like you to host a round and they'll also send you a list of speech topics to choose from.

Most heats and finals are hosted by schools and coordinated by ESU Branches.

What can I do in the meantime?

So, you've registered to take part and are waiting for the heats to begin. In this section, you'll find weekly hints and tips on how you can best prepare for the competition with your class.

Come back each week to find the latest download, or look out for our emails with all of the details.

Don't forget, if you have any questions at any time, please get in touch with Matthew, our Public Speaking Competition lead at

Hints & tips #1 - Notes Download now


Hints & tips #2 - The Chairperson Download now


Hints & tips #3 - The Questioner Download now


Hints & tips #4 - Presenting Download now


Hints & tips #5 - Chairperson role Download now


Hints & tips #6 - The little things Download now


The ESU provides resources to help schools prepare for the Public Speaking Competition. These include guides to the competition format, and some skills-based activities.

Student Handbook 2018-19
Teacher Handbook 2018-19
Judge Handbook 2018-19
School Hosting Brief 2018-19
Judge Mark Sheet 2018-19
Judge Summary Sheet 2018-19
Schools Expense Claim Form
PSC Photo Permission Forms