St Mary’s Speaks Out!

St Mary's Shaftesbury-St Mary's Speaks Out!

As this extraordinary period of distance-learning draws to a close and we allow the well-deserved summer break to loom large on our horizon, we could forgive our student and staff body for feeling somewhat fatigued. As a School, we can be proud of the manner in which we have united, adapted and forged ahead during the Coronavirus pandemic. However, the students of St Mary’s continue to astound me with their enthusiasm, passion and fierce house spirit, and, as I have learned very quickly since joining the School in January, are certainty not ones to shy away from an inter-house competition, whatever the time of year!

The inaugural St Mary’s inter-house public speaking competition or ‘speak out!’ was launched after the summer half-term holiday, inviting Hewarth students from LIII to LIV to form house teams and ultimately present a 6-9 minute speech on a topic chosen from a list. The three teams from Harewell, Newby and York, under the guidance of their tutors, met in Microsoft Teams to research, write, rehearse and deliver their talks on subjects from the problems and possible solutions of racism in sport to the ethical issues surrounding animal testing and the keeping of animals in zoos. Each team was also tasked with responding to two, previously unprepared questions in addition to staying within the strict time limits.

The three speeches were recorded and uploaded ready to be scored by our panel of judges, made up of Mrs Young, our Headmistress; Mrs James, Head of Hewarth; and Mr Simmons of the English department, who, sadly, will be leaving us at the end of this week. Each thought-provoking talk was also shown to the rest of the Hewarth girls during afternoon tutor time, leading to much sensitive and intelligent discussion about the issues they raised.

There were some absolutely outstanding performances from individual students, each of whom have been rewarded with Head’s Commendations by Mrs Young. However, there can only ever be one winning team, and I am delighted to announce that Newby have won first prize and so are the inter-house public speaking champions of 2020! Congratulations to all students who took part – it was incredibly close and each team garnered lots of praise from the judges for their performances.

The English department would like to thank the Hewarth tutors and judges, particularly Mr Simmons whom we wish well in his new role. We also look forward to hearing what next year’s teams will ‘speak out’ about in 2021.

Matthew Ryan-East

Head of English


A full list of winners are given below:

Highest scoring LIII speaker: Cosima W – Newby

Highest scoring UIII speaker: Felicity P-R – Harewell

Highest scoring LIV speaker: Daphne E – Harewell

Overall winning team: Newby: Cosima W (LIII), Willa H (UIII) and Winnie D (LIV)