Branch accounts of Discover Your Voice sessions

Wednesday 6 December 2017

A huge thank you to ESU Salisbury Chairman Mike Tulloch and ESU Exeter Branch School Liaison Officer Maureen Speller for contributing their reflections.


“Having no idea what happened at a Discover Your Voice Workshop (DYV), I decided to go to see for myself when my branch organised one for a local secondary school. I had initially decided that half a day would be sufficient to see what took place but once I had a look at the programme it was clear to me that I really needed to attend for the full day. I wasn’t disappointed.

The day ran to what is obviously a tried and tested format with a series of verbal games in the morning to encourage the students to think quickly and to speak on their feet, at the same time as putting across important points about structuring evidence, presenting an argument and importantly listening to the opposition’s argument. The afternoon programme consisted of a series of short debates in which everyone was given the chance/made to speak.

Not knowing what to expect I tried to approach the day with an open mind but confess to a moment’s surprise when the ESU mentor arrived.  I had expected a DH staff member to be running the day, but instead a student trained as an ESU mentor turned up, so I watched with even more interest.  I need not have worried; from the off she had the students nicely under control and everyone was given a chance/made to say their piece and this remained the case for the rest of the day. The mentor was as enthusiastic and bright and sparky as the pupils, and she led the day from start to finish with a style that reflected well on the ESU.

As I said earlier, the day that I attended was geared towards improving debating skills at a secondary school and I would say the aim was met in full. My branch is currently in the process of organising a DYV workshop for one of our local primary schools and I will be interested to see how the programme is adapted to suit the different challenge.”

ESU Salisbury Chairman Mike Tulloch


“For the second year running, the Exeter & District Branch arranged, hosted and funded a successful Discover Your Voice workshop.   Twenty-five Year 10 and 11 students from 4 local schools attended, plus their respective teachers who came to support and observe.   The mentor took control of the proceedings from start to finish in a skilful and efficient manner.  At all times, the students were fully engaged in a variety of speaking activities and clearly grew in confidence as the day progressed.

However, despite plenty of notice and frequent reminders about the Discover Your Workshop to over forty secondary schools throughout Devon, few acceptances to attend were received until close to the event, when there was a sudden surge of interest.   Thankfully, we were able to accommodate some requests for additional places at the last minute.

Reasons for failures of communication between Branches and schools were discussed with the teachers present, who pointed out that Facebook and Twitter are now the preferred methods of contact and are more likely to receive early attention than email or postal communications.   The organiser of the public speaking competitions and other interested members of the Exeter Branch would be willing to consider alternative methods of communication, including the use of social media, in consultation with local teachers and representatives from Dartmouth House.”

ESU Exeter Branch School Liaison Officer Maureen Speller

Our fun, engaging workshops for both primary and secondary schools develop students' ability to communicate confidently, helping them to think critically, build cohesive arguments, and improving their delivery, listening and response skills. We also work with teachers, delivering CPD training in single schools or in groups of local schools. To get involved or to find out more click here.