Students speaking up on issues that matter
SEX education and baldness were the issues chosen by students from a Gainsborough school as they set out to maintain its domination of the regional public speaking competition.
And Queen Elizabeth's High School (QEHS) got it right once again as the teenagers pulled no punches en route to emphatic victories against the best local opposition at Doncaster's Hill House independent school.
CHAMPIONS: Senior and intermediate public speaking teams from Queen Elizabeth's High School have continued their dominance of the county competition.
Well aware their senior team went all the way to the national final two years ago, their successors and the QEHS intermediate team romped to yet another double triumph.
Each won a trophy and individual gift vouchers as reward for success in the divisional Youth Speaks contest, hosted by the South Yorkshire town's Rotary Club.
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And they will now be entered into the regional final of Youth Speaks at Hull in March.
The senior team of under-18s featured chairman Miriam Stoney, main speaker Jack Panter and a vote of thanks by Sibi Chandar – on the merits of baldness.
The under-14s in the intermediate team of James Clews, Ryan Adams and Jamie Jenkins produced an emphatic debate in favour of improved sex education for children, starting in the final year of primary school.
Sibi Chandar, 17, said the argument in favour of baldness as a virtue was a reasoned one.
"We know Queen Elizabeth's has done very well in this competition for many years," he said.
"But we'd also heard that they'd gone a long way with a series of fairly ridiculous topics."
Jack Paynter revealed: "I saw on the BBC website that there was a light-hearted piece about identifying the cause of baldness.
"I'm into science and it was interesting for me, so it was great to win with that subject."
Fourteen-year-old Jamie Jenkins said the importance of sex education was a serious issue.
"We just feel that it's the same in every school – we need less biological explanations and more facts," she said.
Her team-mate, James Clews, 13, agreed: "We chose the issue because it is awkward for adults to explain."
Head teacher David Allsop agreed that the students had tackled topics they wanted to argue in public.
"I think they're all confident young people who chose the subjects they wanted to speak about in public," he said.
Head of English Deb Allin said: "We have many articulate children here, but we do teach them public speaking. It's a really important skill to have in adult life."
A Rotary Club statement explained: "This competition is designed to encourage those vital life skills of marshalling ideas into a coherent argument and presenting them to an audience.
"The chairman controls the meeting, welcoming guests and introducing the main speaker – who delivers a short address, no more than six minutes, on the chosen topic and must be prepared to answer a question from the audience. Finally, the third team member delivers a vote of thanks."
If either of the QEHS teams go all the way, the Youth Speaks national finals will be held on May 1, at Cranleigh School in Surrey.