Girls of all ages are speaking up and speaking out as public speaking and debating continues to flourish at South Hampstead.
Debating, which takes place at lunchtimes and after school, is now one of the most popular co-curricular activities, with our phenomenal Debating Coach and Director of Debating & Public Speaking inspiring girls across the school to find their voice.
There have been numerous outstanding highlights already this term, with students participating in seven external competitions. Two teams (Edie and Juliana, Megan and Sonya) aced the regionals of Oxford Schools and are through to the Finals Day at the Oxford Union next month, while Edie, Jane and Nadia have made the Regional Final of the English Speaking Union (ESU) Mace. At LSE Juniors, Manon and Charlotte placed first out of 72 teams, narrowly losing to St. Paul’s Girls’ in the Gold Final. At Imperial Juniors, for Year 7 to 10, two of our youngest pupils, Camille and Eloise in Year 7, placed 6th out of 40 teams in their first ever competition, qualifying for the Silver Final. At SOAS Schools, Megan and Sonya made it to the Novice Final; and at Debate Mate, Manon and Edie ranked 9th out of 56 teams, with Manon ranking 10th out of 112 individual speakers and Edie ranking 13th.
Meanwhile, our annual inter-house debate contest galvanised some competitive camaraderie across the year groups, as a culture of oracy continues to grow. Students in every year group participated in six different debates, with students in the older years competing during a Sixth Form assembly, in front of the whole of the Lower and Upper Sixth.
Congratulations too to Rebecca in Year 11, who competed in the national GDST Chrystall Prize for Public Speaking. Thanks to her compelling speech on utopia being an idealistic but impossible state, she was awarded runner-up in the semi-final of this year’s competition, set up in memory of a former GDST employee, Chrystall Carter. Meanwhile, in the ESU Public-Speaking Competition regional heat, our two teams did very well: Leah was marked out as Best Speaker, Charlotte as Best Chair, and one of our teams (Leah, Katie and Milly) was declared the runner-up.
Further opportunities abound later this term, with competitions including Cambridge Schools, UCL Schools, ICYD, Imperial Schools and the exciting residential trip to Durham Schools all on the horizon. We are also looking forward to more collaborative debating with local schools in our very own debating league, as well as GDST VoiceBox, a new TED-style event for Year 9 pupils, which will be held in the new Waterlow Hall next month.