The Taunton Academy was the 60th winner of the English Speaking Union’s Churchill Public Speaking competition on Saturday 24th April. Twelve teams from across Britain met remotely to compete in this prestigious event. Year 11 students Ella Gould, Chris Wood and Alexia Galatalis each fulfilled a different role in their presentation after previously showing their skills both local and then regional levels.
This is the fourth year the school has entered the competition, coached by teacher and former ESU public speaking competition alumna Kat Lam. She said: “I am delighted and proud of the success of the team. Their dedication and motivation during this tumultuous year has been admirable and duly rewarded in their successes.”
Kat’s experiences of the competition 21 years ago during her own school days galvanised her decision to become involved with developing public speaking at the academy. She adds: “Taking part in the ESU competition as a student consolidated my confidence whilst allowing me to develop oratory skills that, as a teacher, I use daily. Communication is a key skill that we must develop in our students to give them the tools for self-advocacy and allow them to fully engage in the world around them.”
In each round, speaker Alexia chose a provocation from a list of topics to write a five minute speech on which she would be hosted and questioned by another team. As Chair, Ella’s role was to welcome and oversee the presentation by welcoming a guest speaker and setting the tone before finally summarising the key messages of what had been discussed. Chris had the tricky role of delving into the guest speaker‘s topic by creating a rapport with whilst also challenging them with his thoughtful questions.
The team will now attend a reception at the House of Lords where they will present their presentation. Headteacher John Eddy said he was extremely proud of both Kat and the team, who have worked so very hard over several months to win their heats and secure their place in the final.
He said: “Kat’s guidance and leadership of the team has been vital. It demonstrated that time and effort does result in success and the whole academy celebrates their achievements, which are richly deserved. The standard has been set very high for our Year 10 team which competed in the regional finals last term.”
The Chair of the ESU Taunton branch, Charles Scott, said: “Initially we saw The Taunton Academy team win the South West Regional Finals, which in itself was remarkable. This led them to the Grand Final. We watched with tenterhooks and despite the high standards of all the teams, The Taunton Academy was the overall winner.
“This was very much a team effort with excellent performances by Alexia, Ella and Chris. However, this would not have been possible without the support, guidance and commitment of Kat – she is brilliant! We are so pleased that the Taunton Branch have been able to give the school our support.”
Notes to editors:
The event can be watched on ESU YouTube channel https://youtu.be/Y49rnIvEmPI