Talented young public speakers from ten local schools took part in the Ouse Valley Junior Public Speaking Competition - which took place entirely over Zoom this year.
The youngsters covered topics from fake news nuclear weapons and the importance of exploring space, to artificial intelligence, abolishing exams and surveillance cameras as deterrents to bullying.
And the standard in the competition was exceptionally high, with each speaker well prepared and passionate about their subject - and able to answer the questions thrown at them!
Ellen Punter is the local organiser of the Primary Public Speaking and Debate Academy’s Competitions, on behalf of the English Speaking Union’s (ESU) Ouse Valley Branch.
She explained: "This year despite all of the issues raised by Covid-19 we managed to hold two unique Zoom Primary Years 4/5 Public Speaking Competitions, the only ESU Branch in the country or even around the world - and we are an International Educational Charity – to do so, mainly because of the wonderful support of teachers, heads, teaching assistants, parents and carers in 10 local schools, who believed that the children in their schools would benefit hugely from preparing and taking part."
And she added that ‘Speaking and Listening’ skills are an essential part of children's education.
Ellen added: "As well as being enrichment activities - as demonstrated in the competitions - they help to encourage their children to be more self- confident and self-assured when standing up in front of an audience and sharing their thoughts and opinions on topical motions they have researched, either independently or as part of the embedded ‘speaking and listening’ aspects of their curriculum, with their classmates."
All of the speakers – including the reserves – felt that using Zoom was less frightening than being in an auditorium with a live audience.
Thanks go to Ellen Punter for organising the competition; to the parents, carers, teachers and TAs who encouraged the children and acted as their technical support; and to the judges: Erica Lester, Brian Cooke, Louis Preston, Barbara Doyle, Glenys Stirk, Steven Gray and Rebecca Punter – Zoom admin host and unexpectedly the MC for part of one competition when a technical glitch struck.