In early December we were approached to see whether we would be able to provide judges for the English Speaking Union Churchill Public Speaking Competition first round events that were to be held at King Edward VII Grammar School and New Hall School in Chelmsford, Essex. The ESU is an educational charity and membership organisation dedicated to helping people realise their potential by giving them the skills and confidence to communicate their ideas and share them with others. This particular competition is focused on students in Years 9 to 11 and provides them with the opportunity to develop key oracy skills and fosters confidence and team work. Teams consist of 3; a Chair, a Questioner and a Speaker. The unique aspect of this competition is that the speaker is actually a member of one of the other teams. The team members have 20 minutes to get to know each other and then the competition begins.
Our CEO, Mike Cubbin drew on his previous experience of public speaking and volunteered to be a judge on both evenings. On Tuesday the event at KEGS had participants from KEGS, Chelmsford County High School for Girls, Felsted School and Saffron Walden County High School. On Thursday the teams were from New Hall School, Gosfield School, Sandon School and Boswells.
Both evenings demonstrated that Essex schools are full of bright, articulate and very capable young people. The standard was extremely high and the organiser of the events, Mr James Scruby, pointed out that these successful teams were here because of the tremendous support from their teachers and parents. The topics discussed were wide ranging and extremely interesting and included speeches on: "Our prisons are no longer fit for purpose", "Is British politics in crisis" and "Have our leaders lost touch with the people".
Two teams from each night were selected to go forward to the ESU Colchester and North Essex Branch final that will be held on Monday 5th February at Anglia Ruskin University, Chelmsford. Selecting the top teams was difficult because the standard was extremely high, but in the end it was decided that the teams going forward were:
Tuesday: Saffron Walden County High School and Felsted School.
Thursday: New Hall School and Sandon School.
Many of those that spoke indicated that they were interested in a future legal career and, if that is the case then the future of the legal profession looks very bright indeed.