The Trust’s Education Committee believes schoolchildren can enjoy and learn from public speaking – especially on a York theme. We have therefore organised public speaking competitions for both primary and secondary school pupils in York, on heritage topics, since 2012. Family and Trust members are welcome to attend.


Secondary school competition

Pupils from 8 schools entered the 2018 Secondary School Public Speaking Competition. The competition was held in King’s Manor on Wednesday 21 November in the presence of the Lord Mayor, Sheriff and full Civic Party. The participating schools were:- All Saints RC, Bootham, Joseph Rowntree, Manor CE Academy, Milthorpe, St Peter’s, The Mount and Vale of York Academy.

Topics for discussion were:

+ Restoring old buildings or building for the future – which should be the priority for our city?

+ Do York’s shopping streets need saving from hairdressers, nail bars and coffee shops?

+ Was York more diverse in the Roman period than it is today?

+ Women make up half of York’s population but are they suitably represented in positions of influence in the city?

+ What changes must York overcome to remain a successful city over the next 100 years?

The winning school was Manor represented by Alexander Savkovic and Ben McBride. They took on the challenge of debating the future of York over the next 100 years.

The Lord Mayor The Right Hon. Cllr Keith Orrell presented the students with the Civic Trust’s Trophy, an obelisk designed by Dick Reid.

For more information see the report in The Press.

2018 Secondary School Competition Highlights will be posted soon.

Primary school competition

The 2018 primary school public speaking competition was held on 27 June in the Merchant Adventurers’ Hall. The audience included the Lord Mayor and Sheriff of York, parents, teachers and members of the City of York Council and York Civic Trust.

Eleven schools entered the competition. Each school was represented by two pupils who selected from the following topics:-

  • It is a pity that there is not a York Workhouse today.
  • Is York really the best UK city in which to live?
  • What would you do with the area taken up by the Castle Car Park?
  • If you could go back in time, in a time machine, would you choose to go back to Victorian or Roman York?
  • Who should get York Civic Trust’s next Blue Plaque?

Announcing the results the head judge commented on the quality of each entry before declaring St. Wilfrid’s RC School the 2018 winners.

Daniel Healey-Smith and Millie Batterton receiving their trophy from the Lord Mayor
Celebrating the evening — all competitors and judges with the Lord Mayor and Sheriff of York


2018 Primary School Competition Highlights can be viewed here:



Secondary school competition

Pupils from secondary schools across York made their voices heard as part of the 2017 Secondary School Public Speaking Competition. This year the competition was held in King’s Manor on Wednesday 22 November. Nine schools took part:- All Saints RC, Bootham, Fulford, Joseph Rowntree, Manor CE Academy, Milthorpe, St Olave’s, Vale of York Academy and York High.

Topics for discussion were: Is a development made of old shipping containers right for the centre of York? The King’s Manor was once the home of the Council of the North: it should be again! What will visitors of the future find most interesting about York of today? York is a place to visit, not a place to live. Museums are boring!

Each school was represented by two pupils and this year the top prize went to York High’s duo, Oscar Dewine and Sam Holland whose chosen subject was ‘Museums are boring!’

Education PSC17


Primary school competition

The 2017 primary school competition was on 5 July, when St Wilfrid’s RC Primary School won the prize, for the third year in a row, from 13 other schools. The winning speakers, Ruby Harrison and Freddie Thornton, spoke on their chosen subject: York Minster is world famous but is it the lesser known buildings that tell York’s story?

Ruby Harrison and Freddie Thornton of St. Wilfrid’s School at the podium.
The winning entrants receiving their award certificates from Lord Mayor Barbara Boyce
The Lord Mayor (centre) with all the winners of the Primary School Public Speaking Competition in July 2017

A report in The Press can be found online, with video highlights of primary school pupils participating in the July 2017 public speaking competition can be viewed below or on YouTube here.

2016 Winners

Secondary school competition

The latest competition for secondary school pupils was held on 16 November 2016 in York’s Council Chamber. Milo Gildergate McMullen and Francesca Mitten of Bootham School were the worthy winners of the secondary school competition. They chose the theme “two hours in York is a waste of time”. Here is the York Press report.

2016-17 winners, Francesca Mitten and Milo Gildergate McMullen of Bootham School, with the Lord Mayor and Lady Mayoress.









Below is a 9 minute film of highlights from that competition (or can be seen on YouTube here)




Beau Gascoigne and Ellen York were the winning speakers at the competition for primary school pupils on Wednesday 6 July 2016, at the Merchant Adventurers’ Hall, among strong competition of 14 schools. They are from St Wilfrid’s school, and spoke about whether a Roman soldier or Viking warrior would win in a duel.

Lady Mayoress Susan Ridley, and Sheriff Jonathan Tyler awarded their prize.
Here is a film of highlights of the young people speaking (or can be seen on YouTube here).


The secondary school competition was at York Guildhall on 9 December 2015. From a strong field, the winners were Lorien and Maya Birch of Fulford School. You can see the York Press report here. One of the popular topics was the Civic Trust’s Blue Plaques – what should or should not be included.

A team of two children speaks for 5 to 8 minutes on one of the topics of local and historic interest given as choices to the schools. Their audience has included parents and other family, teachers and Civic Trust members. Prizes included £25 vouchers for each of the young winners and tickets to Fairfax House for them and their families. The winning school received a trophy for the year, and a DVD which shows the whole competition. Here is a clip from the 2015 competition.



In July 2015 the primary school competition winners received their prize from Cllr Sonja Crisp, Rt Hon the Lord Mayor of York, with their families among the audience. The winning school was St Wilfrid’s, with speakers Isabel Jatto and Maeve Reeve-Smith. Second was Huntington Primary, with speakers Alex Bonfield and Will Stone. Third was Westfield Primary, with speakers Toby Watson and Leah Stewart. Here is a film showing highlights of those three teams’ talks.

In November 2014, secondary schools Bootham, Fulford, Huntington, Joseph Rowntree, Manor CE Academy, St Olave’s and The Mount all fielded a team in the presence of the Lord Mayor of York. Dougie Buchanan of Huntington School was the winner, even though his speaking partner was unable to come at the last minute. Ethan McKinney and Sophie Bone of St Olave’s were second and Daisy Smart and Pietra Sorze of The Mount School third. Here is a three minute film showing highlights of these November 2014 winning teams.



In July 2014, the winning pair of the primary school competition in the Merchant Adventurers Hall were Lorien Birch and Josephine Lewis of Naburn School. They spoke on “what they liked best about York”, and they repeated their talk at the Trust AGM in October 2014. Lord Deramore’s school came second and St Wilfrid’s third – out of eleven competing schools. Here is a film of that competition (8 minutes). 

In the secondary school competition, Georgia Robinson and James de Planta of St Olave’s School were presented with the winning prize by the Lord Mayor; Huntington School were second and Joseph Rowntree School third. Here is a link to the York Press report and below is a film of the November 2013 Public speaking competition.