Public Speaking Competition for Key Stage 3 & 4 students

ESU-Churchill National Public Speaking Competition for Schools

Registration for Public Speaking Competition 2017/18 is now closed.

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 the UK with over 400 teams entering each year.

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 30 branches up and down the country running competition heats, so it is easy and convenient to get your school involved.

If you’re interested in registering for the competition in 2018-19, please email Head of Branch Education Liaison, Alex Bailey on Provide him with your name, your role and your school’s name. Alex will let you know when registrations are open in July and send you more information about next year’s competition. In the meantime, you can download the Teachers’ Handbook at the bottom of this page to find out more.

How the competition works

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

During each round of the competition, the Chairman 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 chairman'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.

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.

For further information, you can download the Competition Handbook in the Resources section below.

If you are interested in registering for the competition, please contact Alex Bailey on

To find out about the final and winners of the 2017 competition click here.


Number of participants in our UK Public Speaking Competition in 2016


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
Teachers Handbook
Judge Guidelines
PSC Hosting Guide