Heathcote pupils participate in National Speak Out Challenge

During the Autumn Term, Heathcote Year 10 pupils participated in the National Speak-Out Challenge, delivering a speech on a topic of their choice in order to gain the skills, confidence and desire to speak in public. Teacher of English, Ms Gooden, fills us in...

Tuesday 17th October 2017 marked the beginning of a national event: the ‘Speak Out’ Challenge. Every year around the country Year 10 students are given the opportunity to participate in the challenge. Teachers in English Departments are given the difficult task to select challengers, so at Heathcote our selection process awards those that consistently work hard, have good attendance and good behaviour.

A total of 28 of our Year 10 pupils were selected to participate. For one day they were coached in the art of public speaking by a professional trainer from the Speaker’s Trust, on behalf of the Jack Petchey Foundation, who came to Heathcote to run a workshop. Those selected to participate deserve to be acknowledged:

Saadia Abdulsattar, Huzaifah Adia, Keren-Grace Adjei, Shahina Ali, Michelle Amoako, Jonita Asamoah, Oliver Ashwell, Arsene Bireza, Dylan Christie, Matthew Demetri, Suleman Gul, Dassa Mavromatis-Jackson, Malachi James, Nuri Karatas, Owen Lakes, Rachel Lott, Joseph Magen, Chanel Munroe, Joseph Orafu, Tia Reid-Brady, Atila Rezvan, Joshua Robinson, Lillie Ryan, Ann Ryder, Connor Scott, Annabelle Shelbourne, Amber Shemi, Shohrukhi Shohamdamzoda, Maria Solomou, Mohammad Tarif, Cameron White, Olivia Wieteska, Luke William-Jones, Jevan Wilson

After a gruelling day of learning new skills, all 28 were put to the test. Who would be chosen to go through to the next round? Out of 28 pupils, six were chosen; nonetheless, well done does need to be said to the other 22 pupils who contended against their peers and provided them with as much support as they themselves received.


“The ‘Speak Out’ Challenge offered amazing skills for us to learn. When the day/workshop started we had to start off with small introductions to each other as a public speaking exercise. Like most people I was nervous but our workshop leader taught us how to rid of the nerves or use them to help our performance. By the time we learnt many different techniques and how to model our content, we were put to the test!

With amazing performances from my peers, I couldn’t help but feel like a truck had just knocked my self-confidence down. I did it anyway and gave it all I could. When all 5 names of the winners were called I felt happy I tried. It was then Miss called out the sixth winner, Joshua!

It was a wonderful chance to learn and express public speaking skills.”

Joshua Robinson

Congratulations and well done also go to Ann Ryder, Chanel Munroe, Olivia Wieteska, Huzaifah Adia, and Dylan Christie who made it through to the next round!!

With the Regional Final looming – taking place on Wednesday 22nd November 2017 at Lammas School in Leyton, a previous winner of the Jack Petchey Award – it was time for more hard work. Each pupil was given the opportunity to refine their speech, but the biggest challenge was delivering their speech to an entire Year Group assembly – not a feat for the fainthearted! Airtime was secured in three assemblies to Year 7, Year 8, and Year 9 so that each challenger could experience speaking to a larger audience prior to facing the daunting judges. And what a job they did… Four challengers took part, facing their fears while building their confidence to overcome the hurdle or actually voicing their message.

Unfortunately only two pupils could be chosen to go through to the Regional Final, one as our representative, the second as a back up. After sessions of putting themselves on the line and cheekily getting the Year 9 Form Tutors and Co-Tutors to cast their votes, first place was awarded to Dylan Christie; second place awarded to Ann Ryder.

The final took place as planned and what a proud moment it was for Heathcote School and Science College. Dylan took the stage and delivered a sound and powerful message titled ‘Decisions we make are what define us…’ A message that at the end of the event had members of the audience seeking him out to congratulate him and thank him for the content of his message.


“This was am amazing experience for me; however, it was very nerve wracking. In the beginning, I was worried about what people would think of me if I took part in this competition. But when I spoke to the Year 7s, that really boosted my confidence and made  me feel like I could accomplish anything.

I didn’t win the competition, but I’m glad that my message was heard. There are many disastrous things going on around the world, and I felt that it was time somebody spoke out about why gang affiliation is bad.

There were many people that came up to me and complimented my speech at the end of the Regional Final at Lammas School and Sixth Form. I would like to thank Ms Gooden and Ms Hannigan (for putting me forward) and the Jack Petchey Foundation for this opportunity.”

Dylan Christie

Despite not winning the event – the title being taken by Leytonstone School this year – and going on to represent the London Borough of Waltham Forest in the Regional Final against the other 36 boroughs in London, Dylan – as with all of the other contenders on the night and that were chosen by their English teachers in other schools around the borough – are all winners. They leave with an experience and the skills that not every student gets the opportunity to have – the art of public speaking!

Ms Gooden


Speak Out Challenge