Exploring English

Senior School
22 Oct 20

The Third Form has been exploring the topic of ‘speeches that shaped the world’. This is the first stage of the transition into English Language at GCSE, where the pupils have to show their versatility in different forms, including speeches, news articles and other kinds of non-fiction writing.

Speaking and Listening is no longer a required element of the GCSE, but the department continues to give it priority through this topic: delivering a speech and debating current affairs is as important as understanding the features of great oratory.

Our students have been studying speeches delivered at times of national crisis – Queen Elizabeth I under the threat of the Armada, Churchill after Dunkirk or Lincoln at Gettysburg – but the other major theme has been protesting and making the case for civil rights, including the Suffragette Movement. As this topic coincides with Black History Month, we have also explored the oratory of Martin Luther King’s I Have a Dream and President Barak Obama commemorating black activists at Selma, Alabama.

They have also appreciated the performances of speakers of their own age and mindset, including Greta Thunberg and Malala Yousafzai addressing the United Nations. This week, a spacecraft has set off on its journey to collect dust from an asteroid, and so they analysed the 1969 speech that was prepared in case the first moon landing was a disaster. To practise public speaking, Mrs Head’s class used the Chapel as an appropriate setting to deliver their own speeches. What a range of experience in one topic!