Chailey Triumph - Winners of the 2023 Speak Out Challenge

23rd Jun 2023

Chailey School triumphs at the Speak Out Challenge Regional Final 

On Thursday 23rd June, Chailey School competed against seven other local schools in the Speak Out Challenge Regional Final, held at Uckfield College. Following the Speak Out Challenge workshop in October, and the subsequent assembly final where Toby and Florence were selected as finalists to present their speeches at the Regional Final, this event was the culmination of sustained preparation, dedication, and creative thinking.  

In addition to family, friends, and supporters watching their performances, the fifteen participants were also subject to the keen eyes and ears of the judges. The seven judges came from a range of different backgrounds and career paths, including a lecturer, a professional speaking coach, and the previous Sussex finalist from 2022. Also in attendance was the Uckfield Town Mayor, Councillor Jackie Love, who expressed her admiration for the young people’s bravery and composure.  

Despite their diversity, the judges were united in the message they gave to the students before they began their speeches: to speak from the heart and let their passion shine through. This echoes the ethos of The Speaker’s Trust, whose aim is to find, encourage, and provide platforms for young people’s voices. The Speak Out Challenge is a truly empowering experience for young people who get to speak about a topic that, crucially, is important to them as individuals.  

The topics the students had chosen ranged from the political - women’s rights, the education system, migration – to the more personal: what Islam means to one of the contestants, a love for competitive swimming, and the magic of board games.  

Despite the fierce competition, Toby’s incredible speech, quirkily entitled, ‘On the subject of ducks and writing’, was a very well-deserved winner. Toby’s expertly crafted speech masterfully balanced well-timed humour, including wry self-deprecation about the quality of his lockdown poems, and his poignant message about the transformative, transportive power of writing for pleasure.   

Florence’s speech achieved the difficult task of drawing on her own personal experience while also presenting a wide-reaching, resonating message: that perfection is the enemy of progress. In her speech, entitled, ‘The Paradox of Perfectionism’, she urged the audience to be kinder to ourselves and acknowledge progress and effort, rather than perfection. This heartfelt and moving message earned Florence second place in this tough competition.  

It was a privilege to see our Chailey students representing the school and embodying our school values of independence, creativity, and resilience. Both students remained calm and composed under the considerable pressure of the competition and presented inspiring messages in an engaging, articulate manner. We are so incredibly proud of their achievement.  You can watch their speeches here

Toby D - ‘On the subject of ducks and writing’: 

Florence H - ‘The Paradox of Perfectionism’: