MEMBERS of the debate society of Burnt Mill Academy, in Harlow, have been practising their speeches – by talking across the street to lampposts.
The technique, to teach students how to project their voices, has resulted in success at the Youth Speaks public speaking competition at Bishop’s Stortford College.
Students spoke passionately about LGBTQ+ rights, suffragettes and our obligation to vote, with Year 8 Lauren Burgess, Isobel Baker and Josephine Edwards beating stiff competition to become runners-up.
Maths teacher Angus Hally, who runs the after-school club, said: “Like all great success, this has come from pure hard work. The successful students have trained twice to three times each week to perfect their speeches.
“They have to think about their voice, gesticulation, movement, humour, passion and tone to make sure their speeches are incredibly polished.
“To prepare, I put students in front of parents, teachers and, most intimidatingly, Year 10 students, so that on the night nothing could scare them. On the night itself, I took them out into the cold and made them project their voices as if they were talking to the lamppost across the street – an exercise the judges said paid off!”
The school relaunched its debate society recently where students in Year 7 to 11 come together to express their views.
The club is also promoted as a way of keeping up-to-date with current events, to build confidence, to become part of a team and to take part in competitions.
Each week, students practise their debating as well as train to improve their skills.
The club members will take part in the Oxford Schools Debate Competition in January and February, competing with students from around the country.
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