Blessed Robert Sutton Catholic Voluntary Academy students are celebrating after winning the regional round of a prestigious national public speaking competition.
Hannah Greenwood, Libby Smout and Savhanna Briers triumphed in the Birmingham and East Midlands heat of the English-Speaking Union Churchill Public Speaking Competition.
The Churchill Public Speaking Competition gives students the opportunity to develop oracy skills, while also encouraging confidence and teamwork.
Each competing team is made up of a chair, guest speaker and questioner – all from different schools – and students score points for their own school with the total being tallied up at the end of the contest.
Speakers choose their subject from a list given to them and Savhanna, from Blessed Robert Sutton, talked about the topic ‘art should not be censored’.
Blessed Robert Sutton CVA came out on top and will now go on to the Birmingham and East Midlands Area Final on February 27th. If they are successful they will compete in the Midlands Final. The national Grand Final is held in Cambridge in April.
Amanda McDowall, Head of Year 11 at Blessed Robert Sutton CVA, entered the team into the competition and trained them.
She said: “This competition is traditionally dominated by public schools and we are so proud of our students for this fantastic achievement. We did a lot of rehearsals, we were practicing for about one and a half hours, three times a week for three weeks. A lot of it can’t be rehearsed though as the student who is the questioner won’t hear the speech they have to ask questions about until the day of the competition. Afterwards I felt we should have come first or second but based on past experience I really didn’t know what would happen. It was great to hear that we’d won, Libby also won best chair.”
Hannah said: “I think I was in shock when they said that we had won. I didn’t think we were going to win.”
Savhanna said: “When they announced the best speaker and it was someone else I thought that’s it, we’ve lost. Then they said our name and I just burst into tears.”
Laura O’Leary, acting headteacher at Blessed Robert Sutton CVA, congratulated the team on their success. She said: “This is an incredible honour and we are so proud of the students who put so much effort into this. It really is a great example of what can be achieved through dedication and hard work and we would like to thank Mrs McDowall for the hours that she has put into preparing the students.”