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Gresham College Announces Finalists for Annual Oracy Competition

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Gresham College(@GreshamCollege) has announced the finalists of its second annual Gresham Competition, an oracy competition for state school students aged 16 and 17 that promotes the importance of oracy throughout students’ academic and future careers. The twelve finalists will compete for a total possible prize of almost £15,000 to further their education as well as £1,000 to be granted to the winner’s school.

The Gresham Competition, which began in 2023, showcases the communication skills of state school students in Year 12 (England and Wales), S5 (Scotland), and Year 13 (Northern Ireland). The event emphasises Gresham College’s dedication to promoting oracy skills and the importance of effective public speaking among young learners.

The twelve finalists from around the UK will deliver their prepared answers to one of Gresham College’s pre-set questions to a panel in London.

The finalists for the 2023/24 competition are as follows: 

(The names of each finalist are currently anonymous for privacy reasons)

Finalist AgeSchoolArea
17Bishopshalt SchoolLondon Borough of Hillingdon
16Oaklands SchoolLondon Borough of Tower Hamlets
16Henrietta Barnett Sixth FormHampstead
16Brampton Manor AcademyLondon Borough of Newham
16Queen Elizabeth’s School, BarnetBarnet, Greater London
16Lampton AcademyHounslow, west London
17Graveney Sixth FormTooting, southwest London
unknownSaffron Walden County High SchoolSaffron Walden, Essex
16Netherthorpe School Chesterfield District of Derbyshire
16Carmel College DarlingtonHummersknott, Darlington
16George Salter AcademyWest Bromwich, West Midlands
16Lymm High SchoolWarrington, Cheshire

Gresham College, the first institute of Higher Education in London, has been providing free public education across the arts and sciences since 1597 and is also a registered charity in England and Wales. Through this competition, they aim to showcase the importance of oracy competence and the art of communicating.

Before this stage of the competition, students from all over the UK prepared five-minute presentations on assigned topics, aiming to demonstrate their oratory abilities and engage with academic research. The questions were set by leading UK lecturers connected to Gresham College.

The questions being answered by pupils (16-17 years old):

  1. How can the law aid in creating a more equal, diverse and inclusive society?
  2. How might Large-Language models like ChatGPT affect the future of education? 
  3. Could genome editing consign genetic diseases to history and would that be ethical?
  4. Should the exploration of space be left to private companies, or to governments?
  5. How far is it morally justifiable to curtail personal freedoms to protect the environment?
  6. If you could introduce a Private Member’s Bill to change one law in a UK jurisdiction, what change would you propose, and how would you argue for it in a Parliamentary speech?
  7. With rising mental health issues in young people, how could an emotional response to music be used to help?
  8. Paganism in Britain was replaced by Christianity with apparent speed and ease. What are the parallels today for religions and other societal changes?
  9. The prime minister has said that everyone should learn maths by the age of 18. Is he right?

The chosen finalists will now compete for awards to support their further education. The first-place student will receive £9,250 towards their first-year university tuition and £1,000 for a laptop from Gresham College, whilst second and third place will receive £800 and £600 towards laptops respectively. 

In addition to the amount given on behalf of Gresham College, The Rosetrees Trust prize will be awarded to the top two out of six students answering questions on STEM (questions 2, 3, and 9). The Merchant Taylors prize is for the remaining six students answering the Arts & Humanities Questions (1,4,5,6,7, and 8). Both The Rosetrees Trust and the Merchant Taylors will contribute £300 to the first-place winner along with £2,700 towards their first-year university fees, for excellence in STEM and Arts & Humanities, respectively. The runner-up will receive £200 for their work as well as £1,800 towards university tuition.

Additionally, the schools of the winners will receive £1,000 for the first-place winner from Gresham College, and £500 for second and third-place finalists, to go towards enhancing the school’s academic programs and curricular activities. For other finalists, the programme also helps students with their UCAS applications for University and prepares them well for future job interviews.

The esteemed panel of judges of the event are as follows:

  • Professor Sarah Hart – Professor of Geometry at Gresham College (2020 -)
  • Deputy Nighat Qureishi – Gresham College Council Member
  • Nav Ahmed – Principal Lecturer, Arden University
  • Mary-Clare Davies – Director of Global Education, Mulberry School for Girls
  • AJ Haseley – Co-Founder & CEO of AYM Media Group

This year’s competition features an expanded range of topics, including law, health, artificial intelligence, and science. Participants were required to submit recorded presentations, written summaries, and detailed source documentation before the finalists were decided. This broader scope encourages students to explore diverse subjects and develop their intellectual curiosity.

Professor Martin Elliott, Provost, at Gresham College, says: 

“We are pleased to announce our finalists for the 2024 Gresham Competition. Through this platform, students not only showcase their oracy skills but also engage with significant academic research that will open them up to new areas of learning.”

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