Skip to content

Chrystall Carter Prize for Public Speaking - Finalists dazzle with their oration skills at final of prestigious GDST competition, hosted at Sheffield Girls’

The weekend’s snow cleared just in time for us to be able to welcome pupils and colleagues from five GDST schools to Sheffield as we hosted the final of the prestigious Chrystall Carter Competition for Public Speaking on Tuesday.

We welcomed guests from Birkenhead High School Academy, Oxford High School, Notting Hill & Ealing High School, Croydon High School and Portsmouth High School as the finalists - selected during regional heats - took their place at the podium to test their powers of persuasiveness and oration skills.

The competition - which gives Year 11 students from across the Girls’ Day School Trust the opportunity to compete using their knowledge of debating and their acquired skills in speech writing and delivery - has been running since 2001 and is named after Chrystall Carter who was Legal Adviser to the GDST for nine years until her untimely death in 1999. Chrystall had a strong belief in the power of reasoned argument and the competition honours her memory by providing our pupils with the opportunity to develop this essential skill.

During the competition contestants speak for up to seven minutes on their chosen topic, followed by up to three minutes of questions from the audience.

Our judges at the event were Professor Dr Ger Graus OBE, a renowned figure in the field of education who was the founding CEO of the Children’s University; Mathy Selvakumaran a writer, speaker, videographer and activist who has campaigned for Muscular Dystrophy UK; and Chris Rooke, a leading figure in the performing arts in South Yorkshire and founder of the Barnsley Youth Theatre.

Isobella from Birkenhead considered the merits of voting in today's society, Sidra from Oxford High discussed strategies to save the planet. Matilda from Notting Hill & Ealing looked at the moral duty of artists, whilst Tara contemplated a degrowth strategy for economic and climate stability. Sophie from Portsmouth finished the event with her speech reviewing the long term benefits and innovations derived from the pandemic and other cataclysmic events.
Kate Lloyd-Hughes, Head of English at Sheffield Girls’ said: “I was so impressed by the passion, eloquence and confidence of all the speakers in the final. They were truly outstanding public speakers and should feel very proud of their achievements.”

Mathy Selvakumaran said: "I was blown away by the talent of this year's finalists and the passion with which they delivered their speeches. They all demonstrated incredible public speaking skills, were able to engage the audience with their arguments and answer some tough questions. It was incredibly challenging to choose a winner!"
It was an absolute pleasure to welcome girls from across the GDST, their families and their teachers and showcase some of the incredible talent we have amongst our Year 11 pupils. The winner on the day was Tara from Croydon High School who impressed with her persuasive performance and level of engagement with her audience. Congratulations Tara!

Nina Gunson, Head of Sheffield Girls’ said: “I never fail to be impressed by the level of talent and confidence on display during the Chrystall Prize. It has never been more important for young women to be able to make themselves heard and argue their case in a reasoned and impactful manner and I think I can speak for teachers across the GDST when I say what a privilege it is to be able to play some small part in developing those skills.”

IMG 9248

From left to right: Sophie, Sidra, Tara, Isobella and Matilda.

Related articles

See us in action