Putting their peers in the picture

Putting their peers in the picture

All Year 7 boys took part in an inter-House photography competition with a difference – where what matters most is not the image, but what is said about it.

Conceived mainly as a public-speaking challenge to develop skills of oracy at an early age, the Year 7 Photo Competition takes as its judging criteria the content and delivery of the speeches the boys make, with their chosen photos serving as the starting point for their talks.

Arhan Panjwani, of Leicester House, took first prize with a talk that urged the grand final audience in the Main School Hall to consider the effect we are having on the world around us and to take action. It was illustrated by his aerial photo of the area near his home, taken by a drone.

Headmaster Neil Enright, who judged the final, said: “While it’s sometimes true that ‘a picture is worth a thousand words’ – the title of this year’s competition – on this occasion we were also very keenly interested in the words the boys came up with themselves!

“I am pleased to say that the standard of the finalists’ talks was very high indeed – everyone spoke eloquently and engaged the audience. There was considerable variety in theme and approach, which made it interesting and stimulating, not to mention difficult for me to judge. Arhan’s talk was most persuasive; he is a worthy winner.”

The competition began with all the Year 7 pupils trying out their speaking skills in their respective form groups and then choosing a winner to represent them and their House.

Boys were allowed to speak for up to three minutes about their photograph, but had to talk without notes. Merits were awarded for all six finalists, with 20 House points given for first place, 14 for second and 10 for third.

“The competition is, in fact, an excellent opportunity to develop skills of public speaking and to enjoy the collective experience of participating in a large-scale event together,” said the Headmaster. “Boys have an opportunity to learn how to construct a compelling speech and how to provoke thought in the audience. I also marked them on how well they projected and commanded attention in such a large venue, and on how they coped with an audience wearing masks, which made it difficult for them to gauge how their words were being received.

“The competition fulfils another important function in helping these, our newest Elizabethans, get to know others in their forms, with their chosen images and talks frequently giving an insight into each individual. Indeed, a number of the presentations included a personal element, such as a place the boy had visited or an experience from his younger childhood.”

“Notwithstanding such use of ‘human interest’ and the effective deployment of humour by some, many of the boys used their photo to make an important point and deliver a message with wide meaning, giving us plenty to think about.”

Mr Enright noted the strong use of facts by several of the finalists, especially second-placed Ethan Yao, of Pearce House, whose hard-hitting presentation arguing for nuclear disarmament was replete with shocking facts and statistics. It was illustrated by a photo of a mushroom cloud.

Third place was won by Yusuf Hazari, of Stapylton. His talk, illustrated by an image of a spider spinning a web, urged boys to be determined and resilient in their lives. Head of Year 7 Tom Harrison said: “The photo gave lots of us the heebie-jeebies, but Yusuf left us feeling empowered about facing life’s challenges!”