The annual competition is open to Year 11 girls from all GDST schools. The contestants are required to speak for up to seven minutes on their allocated topic followed by answering questions from the audience for up to three minutes.
The competition was set up in memory of a former GDST employee, to mark her commitment to the girls themselves, her pleasure in their success and her belief in the power of argument.
Year 11 girls from Portsmouth, Brighton and Hove, Putney, Streatham and Clapham and Wimbledon High Schools all took part. Speeches varied from restricting gun laws to the Government’s current policy towards grammar schools.
The panel of judges consisted of Portsmouth High School's Chair of Governors, Anne McMeehan Roberts, Ellen Weeks a speech and drama teacher from the Isle of Wight and Lauren Farnhill a drama and English teacher from Portsmouth.
The winner of the competition was Pippa Terry from Streatham and Clapham High School whose speech ‘Everyone has the right to offend,’ was applauded by the judges for using humour and rhetorical techniques.
‘It takes great courage to stand up in front of your peers, articulate your thoughts and persuade your audience,’ said Mrs Anne McMeehan Roberts. ‘To do this with poise and confidence is a great strength. All these techniques will stand you all in good stead for the rest of your lives.’
‘I am thrilled to be chosen to go through to the next round,’ said Pippa. ‘I was up against excellent opposition and it was a tough call. I am delighted.’
Mrs Yvonne Williams, English Teacher at Portsmouth High School added:
‘This was a really current group of speeches with strong political debate and an openness of attitudes, from promoting tolerance in our society to preserving our planet. All the speakers should be very proud of themselves.’
The finals of the competition take place in March at Notting Hill and Ealing High School.