GDST girls lead the debate

On Friday 9th March, five talented students competed in the final of the GDST Chrystall Prize, a public speaking competition for Year 11 pupils drawn across our family of schools.


After battling through a number of heats to get the final, which was held at Notting Hill & Ealing High School in West London, the finalists faced an impressive panel of judges: Stephen Sackur, the award-winning BBC presenter; Jane Garvey, presenter of BBC Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour; and James Coomarasamy, BBC television and radio presenter.

The challenge was to talk for up to seven minutes on their chosen topic, followed by three minutes of questioning from the audience.

The five finalists did not shy away from tackling controversial issues.

Serena Philpott (Newcastle High School for Girls), began proceedings with a talk titled, ‘The truth is overrated’. Next up was Ashley Ulaikere, (The Royal High School, Bath) with ‘Feminism has gone too far’, a pertinent topic on the day after International Women’s Day.

Elizabeth Elliott (Streatham & Clapham High School) questioned ‘Is there any magic left in the world?’, whilst Flossie Morris (Notting Hill & Ealing High School) asked ‘Should statues be removed if they offend current sensibilities?’

Josie Cunnington (Croydon High School) closed the final with her talk, ‘Does social media have a detrimental effect on young people’s mental health?’

The judges were deeply impressed with the quality of the arguments put forward and the poise and composure of the speakers. However, the most persuasive performance was delivered by Serena Philpott, who they crowned Chrystall Prize winner for 2018.

Congratulations to Serena, the finalists and Notting Hill & Ealing High School for superbly hosting the final.