This year’s Jack Petchey’s Speak Out Challenge produced some superb public speaking from Darrick Wood’s Year 9 and Year 10 pupils. Every year Darrick Wood School participates in the scheme, which aims to instil in pupils the skills, confidence and desire to speak in public through workshops run by the Speakers Trust and funded by the Jack Petchey Foundation. At end of each workshop, six pupils are selected for the school’s internal finals, with these contenders eventually narrowed down to two school representatives and one reserve finalist for the Bromley Regional Finals.
The Year 9 workshops were highly successful, with many of the pupils who attended stating that they not only thoroughly enjoyed the day, but also that their public speaking confidence had been massively boosted. By the end of the workshop, all pupils spoke without notes on a subject of their choice for at least a minute. The level of their performances was impressive and the subjects they chose to talk about ranged from the current refugee crisis to comic portraits of members of their family. There were also some moving talks on grief, loss and disability. The standard was so high that the workshop trainers found it hard to decide our six school finalists. The following pupils were eventually selected: Oliver Brewster (9YP), Noor Hamdane (9YP), Benedict Lawrence (9YD), Kurtis Pinkerton (9XS), Nicola Roffey (9XF) and Holly Spencer (9YD). These pupils went on to perform in front of the Year 7 assembly, and with the help of many members of staff, all of whom stated how impressed they were by all pupils’ performances, Nicola Roffey and Oliver Brewster were voted our school representatives for the Year 9 Bromley Regional Final (9th February 2016). In this event, they both performed with outstanding confidence and did Darrick Wood proud.
The Year 10 workshops were equally successful, with both trainers from the Speakers Trust expressing their admiration at the confidence and intellectual abilities of many of our Year 10 participants. What was particularly impressive was the originality of chosen topics, which ranged in content from the political mobilisation enabled by social media to an amusing and thought-provoking speech by Poppy French intriguingly entitled ‘Tracey Beaker nearly killed me!’ Pupils enthused about how beneficial and rewarding they found the day, with one pupil claiming, “this training has allowed me to build my confidence and feel more comfortable in front of an audience” and another stating more succinctly “It was amazing!” Once again, arriving at the six school finalists was a difficult task but the workshop trainers decided upon James Baxter (10XW), Rajvir Bhattal (10XB), Stephen Cosgrove (10YH), Poppy French (10YP), Juliane Gaspar (10XL) and Abigail Knight (10XB). Eventually, it was decided that Rajvir Bhattal and Abigail Knight should go on to represent Darrick Wood School in the regional finals: Rajvir’s talk, entitled ‘The Most Unlikely Cult of the twentieth Century’, comprised of a thoughtful discussion of young people’s political usage of social media, while Abigail waxed lyrically about how books fire her imagination and affect her emotional life. Both performed brilliantly at the finals at Newstead Wood School (21st March 2016), with one of the trainers from the Speakers Trust expressing how impressed she had been by the maturity of their chosen subject matter.
All in all, the Speak Out Challenge was a great success at Darrick Wood School this year, and we look forward to introducing it to our current Year 8 pupils next year!