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BISS Puxi Youth Speaks Competition Helps Develop Students’ Public Speaking Skills

Congratulations to all the students who took part in our highly successful second annual BISS Puxi Youth Speaks contest. Head of English, Alan Wallace, tells us more about the contest.

Our contest is based on The Rotary Youth Speaks Competition, which is the premium public speaking contest in the UK and attracts thousands of entries each year.

Youth Speaks comprises of four teams of three speakers: A Chairperson who manages the team, the Main Speaker who delivers the key note speech and the Vote of Thanks who comments on the speech and offers thanks to the team, the judging panel and the audience.

 It’s a team event and is under timed conditions with formal rules. The idea is that students give their perspective on issues they feel strongly about such as the use of social networking, the media, travel, stereotyping and so on.

Within Key Stage 3, from Year 7 through to Year 9, we are placing an emphasis on giving our students the opportunity to develop their confidence, self-expression and fluent articulation of ideas so that they can be successful communicators. This is a vital skill for students to develop, as the IB Diploma course requires individual formal oral presentations.

Our competition was set up as follows: Every student in mainstream English took part in this competition in their classes to begin with and their performance also was assessed formally for their levelled Speaking and Listening grade. The best three in each class were chosen to form a team and were assigned their speaking roles. The team then had to write their speeches - for the main speaker this would be around a 1,000 words they would have to construct. Each team had roughly ten minutes to deliver their speeches in front of the whole of Year 9 in the auditorium. The competition was judged by our Vice Principal Stuart White, Our Head of Secondary Chris Share and our Head of Key Stage 3 Andy Lancaster.

With the auditorium lights dimmed and the spotlight firmly on them, the teams began their presentations. First up was Miss Treeby’s team with their topic entitled ‘Society’s Perception of Youth Today’. It’s never easy being the first team but they performed admirably and walked off to a warm round of applause. Next up was Mr Ekkel’s team with their topic of ‘Children are the Future’ which was an earnest and profound appeal by the team for their peers to recognise their contribution and potential to help the world become a better place. Again they left to a rousing applause.

Last year’s winning teacher, Mr Islam’s team was up next and the involuntary grin on his face advertised his confidence that this could be his year again and this wasn’t misplaced verve as Sheena Troemer gave an impressive performance which had the crowd in fits of laughter. The roar of approval which accompanied their exit definitely marked them as the team to beat.

Last up it was Miss Young’s class and, as Miss Young has lots of experience of this competition in the UK, expectations were high. The team of Sarah Hughes as the Chairperson, Sukhmani Bahra as the Main Speaker and Alice Lively delivering the Vote of thanks, entered the stage with poise, purpose and professionalism and it wasn’t long before the audience realised that these girls were moving seamlessly through each of their speeches and working like a team.

Mr Islam’s grin was looking twitchy and rightly so, as this excellent performance was judged narrowly as the best performance of the event and they were crowned the WINNERS!!! Well done girls and Miss Young in becoming BISS Puxi’s 2014 Youth Speak Winners.

There were so many fine performances the judges decided to also award additional winners in the individual categories as following:

  • Chairperson: Eva Reboud
  • Main Speaker: Sheena Troemer & Mehar Kavoor
  • Vote of Thanks: Damien Chan

I'm already looking forward to next year's competition!

- Alan Wallace, Head of English, Drama & Media

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