Harrogate Grammar team through to public speaking national final

Year 11 students from Harrogate Grammar School Jack Hennighan, Elliot Wright and Will Giddings. The team has reached the finals of a national public speaking competition. (S)
Year 11 students from Harrogate Grammar School Jack Hennighan, Elliot Wright and Will Giddings. The team has reached the finals of a national public speaking competition. (S)
  • Harrogate Grammar’s public speaking team won the regional final of a national competition
  • They will now go on to the national final in April
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A team of Harrogate Grammar School students have stormed their way to the national finals of a public speaking competition.

Year 11’s Elliot Wright, Jack Hennighan, and Will Giddings won a second victory in the regional finals of the ESU Churchill Public Speaking competition, and have secured a place in the national finals next month.

This is a tremendous result for Elliot, Jack and Will. Having seen them speak in public, I am very aware of how talented they are and the potential that they have.

Associate headteacher Nathan Bulley

In the regional heat they were pitted against young speakers from across the North East and, in the national finals, the team will face other winning groups.

Associate headteacher Nathan Bulley said: “This is a tremendous result for Elliot, Jack and Will. Having seen them speak in public, I am very aware of how talented they are and the potential that they have.

“It is a delight to see them fulfilling that potential in such a great way. We are very proud of their achievements and look forward to them moving on to even greater things in the future.”

The Public Speaking Competition for Schools was started in 1960 and has evolved to become a respected national competition, providing an opportunity for young people to develop skills in effective spoken English.

In the regional stage of the competition Elliot spoke about ‘World Peace is a meaningless goal’. He argued that rather than try and eliminate conflict, we should move from violent wars to civilised debate.

Elliot then faced a barrage of questions on the topic from Ross Sullivan of Cundall Manor and was praised by the judges for his confident and knowledgeable responses, drawing in ideas from philosopher Thomas Hobbes and many historical examples.

It then fell to Jack to act as chairperson for James Smith from Caistor Grammar School and he introduced the topic, ‘The law is rigged for the rich’.

Finally, Will took on the role of questioner, tasked with probing further into James’ arguments.

The chair of judges at the regional final at the Grammar School at Leeds called the team ‘victors of a very high quality round, in what was unanimous decision’.

In particular he praised the team’s ‘superb depth of knowledge and clarity of delivery’.

The Grammar School team will now take part in the national final at Churchill College, Cambridge on April 25, where all teams will have to prepare to talk and question on an entirely new topic.