Ascham prides itself on producing proactive, articulate and capable young women who are ready to use their skills and knowledge to improve their world. Debating and public speaking are stimulating, fun and popular activities at Ascham that allow girls to develop these skills and abilities and the confidence to use them well.
Debating and public speaking are integral parts of an education at Ascham. Girls in all areas of the school are encouraged to develop their speaking and critical thinking skills, their ability to sustain an argument and their knowledge of current affairs and social issues so that they may capably and cogently present their ideas to others.
In Fiona, debating skills constitute an important part of student learning in each year group as girls develop their talking and listening knowledge and skills. This is taught as part of the English syllabus and refined with in-class debates held by Years 5 and 6 classes and inter-house debates that give girls the skills to form and sharpen their arguments. Girls in Fiona also have the opportunity to participate in the Independent Schools’ Debating Association competition, the IPSHA Debating Gala Days and in other inter-school debates with local schools. These inter-school competitions are very popular and recent teams have had a great deal of success.
In the senior school, speaking skills continue to be a significant part of student learning and engagement. Within the school, girls can participate in inter-house debating and public speaking competitions that combine vibrant and entertaining ideas with professional eloquence. These competitions are always popular and show the strong foundations of public speaking in the school. There are also inter-school debating competitions that students may enter to give them greater access to expert training and skills. Ascham has a keen tradition with the Independent Schools’ Debating Association and the Archdale competitions and has had increasing success in these arenas in recent years.
Girls in the senior school also have access to a range of inter-school public speaking competitions, such as the prestigious Sydney Morning Herald Plain English Speaking competition, the Legacy Junior Public Speaking Award, the Rostrum Voice of Youth competition, the UN Youth Australia competition and the AHIGS Festival of Speech. A number of Ascham girls have progressed to regional finals in these competitions in recent years and all entrants have been able to impress by articulating relevant issues and showing Ascham’s strong tradition of fostering a powerful social conscience.
Students in Years 9 and 10 also have the opportunity to enter the excellent Mock Mediation competition and students in Years 10 and 11 have access to the ever-popular Mock Trial competition, both managed by the NSW Law Society. Mock Mediation allows girls to develop problem solving and inter-personal skills to deal with conflict, such as active listening, self-awareness, questioning, analysing, empathising and creative thinking, while in a team environment. Mock Trial gives students an insight into the NSW legal system and allows them to develop their performance, analysis, advocacy, debating and team work skills. All of these competitions are highly popular and allow girls to present their own ideas to their peers and to experts. In all competitions, girls receive professional training to give them the best opportunity to shine.