Wellington School pupil Isabel Elliott in year 11 won the award for the best speaker in the English Speaking Union’s (ESU) public speaking competition. Isabel delivered an eloquent and confident speech on the subject of ‘Religion alone as a dividing force is the sole reason for many conflicts’. As a result of her performance, she was voted the best individual speaker from a highly competitive field and convinced all present of her committed point of view.
Isabel is a frequent performer at Wellington School, having starred in many drama and musical productions and is currently also learning Greek in addition to her GCSE subjects. Isabel was assisted by Orla Egan and Matthew Perry in their roles as questioner and chairman.
The Public Speaking Competition for Schools was started in 1960 by the Brighton and Hove branch of the ESU. It has evolved to become a highly respected national competition, which provides an opportunity for young people to develop the skills of effective spoken English.
The competition is open to students in key stage 4 (years 10 and 11) and students who participate in the competition develop their knowledge of topical issues, while enhancing their speechwriting skills, their speaking and presentation skills and their ability to think analytically on their feet. The competition also helps to develop confidence in its participants.
Unlike the ESU Schools Mace, this is not a debating competition, as the format is non-confrontational in nature. The role of the chairperson is to introduce the speaker and his or her topic, call on the questioner and the audience members to put questions to the speaker and summarise the overall presentation as part of his or her conclusion. The role of the questioner is to ask probing questions with a view to eliciting more information from the speaker and expanding the discussion as a whole.
“I am thrilled to have won this prize, which consolidates much of performing and public speaking work I have done over the past few years,” commented Isabel.