The Plain English Speaking Award

Latest Competition Information

Entries have now closed for the 2017 Plain English Speaking Award.

If you have any questions about the competition, please don't hesitate to contact us by calling (02) 8512 1172 or by emailing lloyd.cameron@det.nsw.edu.au. Hope to see you in the competition this year!

Local Final Dates and Locations

Albion Park High School is going to Smiths Hill High School on Monday, 8 May 2017  
Albury High School is going to Trinity Anglican College Albury on Monday, 15 May 2017  
Ascham School is going to SCEGGS Darlinghurst on Monday, 15 May 2017  
Ashfield Boys High School is going to Ashfield Boys High School on Friday, 12 May 2017  
Asquith Girls High School is going to Hornsby Girls High School on Tuesday, 9 May 2017  
Barker College is going to Hornsby Girls High School on Tuesday, 9 May 2017  
Bellfield College is going to Elderslie High School on Monday, 15 May 2017  
Bethany College is going to Georges River College Peakhurst Campus on Monday, 22 May 2017
Blacktown Boys High School is going to Crestwood High School on Thursday, 18 May 2017
Bomaderry High School is going to Bomaderry High School on Friday, 12 May 2017  
Braidwood Central School is going to Bomaderry High School on Friday, 12 May 2017  
Brigidine College St Ives is going to Hornsby Girls High School on Tuesday, 9 May 2017  
Bulli High School is going to Smiths Hill High School on Monday, 8 May 2017  
Burwood Girls High School is going to Sydney Technical High School on Monday, 15 May 2017
Camden High School is going to Elderslie High School on Monday, 15 May 2017  
Campbelltown Performing Arts High School is going to Elderslie High School on Monday, 15 May 2017
Caringbah High School is going to Georges River College Peakhurst Campus on Monday, 22 May 2017
Carlingford High School is going to Carlingford High School on Thursday, 18 May 2017  
Castle Hill High School is going to Carlingford High School on Thursday, 18 May 2017  
Central Coast Grammar School is going to Central Coast Grammar School on Friday, 12 May 2017
Cessnock High School is going to Newcastle High School on Friday, 19 May 2017  
Chatham High School is going to Toormina High School on Tuesday, 16 May 2017  
Chatswood High School is going to Carlingford High School on Thursday, 18 May 2017  
Cheltenham Girls High School is going to Carlingford High School on Thursday, 18 May 2017
Cherrybrook Technology High School is going to Carlingford High School on Thursday, 18 May 2017
Chester Hill High School is going to Chester Hill High School on Friday, 12 May 2017  
Chifley College Shalvey Campus is going to Glenwood High School on Friday, 19 May 2017
Coffs Harbour High School is going to Toormina High School on Tuesday, 16 May 2017  
Concord High School is going to Strathfield Girls High School on Friday, 19 May 2017  
Crestwood High School is going to Crestwood High School on Thursday, 18 May 2017  
Cronulla High School is going to Georges River College Peakhurst Campus on Monday, 22 May 2017
Danebank Anglican School for Girls is going to Georges River College Peakhurst Campus on Monday, 22 May 2017
Dubbo College Delroy Campus is going to Dubbo College South Campus on Monday, 15 May 2017
Dubbo College Senior Campus is going to Dubbo College South Campus on Monday, 15 May 2017
Dubbo College South Campus is going to Dubbo College South Campus on Monday, 15 May 2017
East Hills Girls Technology High School is going to Chester Hill High School on Friday, 12 May 2017
Elderslie High School is going to Elderslie High School on Monday, 15 May 2017  
Elizabeth Macarthur High School is going to Moorebank High School on Thursday, 11 May 2017
Epping Boys High School is going to Carlingford High School on Thursday, 18 May 2017  
Farrer Memorial Agricultural High School is going to Farrer Memorial Agricultural High School on Friday, 12 May 2017
Finley High School is going to Trinity Anglican College Albury on Monday, 15 May 2017  
Fort Street High School is going to Sydney Technical High School on Monday, 15 May 2017
Frensham School is going to Smiths Hill High School on Monday, 8 May 2017  
Georges River College Oatley Senior Campus is going to Georges River College Peakhurst Campus on Monday, 22 May 2017
Georges River College Peakhurst Campus is going to Georges River College Peakhurst Campus on Monday, 22 May 2017
Gilroy Catholic College is going to Crestwood High School on Thursday, 18 May 2017  
Girraween High School is going to Crestwood High School on Thursday, 18 May 2017  
Glenwood High School is going to Glenwood High School on Friday, 19 May 2017  
Good Samaritan Catholic College is going to Elderslie High School on Monday, 15 May 2017
Gosford High School is going to Central Coast Grammar School on Friday, 12 May 2017  
Greystanes High School is going to Crestwood High School on Thursday, 18 May 2017  
Hastings Secondary College Port Macquarie Campus is going to Toormina High School on Tuesday, 16 May 2017
Hawkesbury High School is going to Glenwood High School on Friday, 19 May 2017  
Homebush Boys High School is going to Strathfield Girls High School on Friday, 19 May 2017
Hornsby Girls High School is going to Hornsby Girls High School on Tuesday, 9 May 2017  
Hunter School of Performing Arts is going to Newcastle High School on Friday, 19 May 2017
Hurlstone Agricultural High School is going to Moorebank High School on Thursday, 11 May 2017
Illawarra Sports High School is going to Smiths Hill High School on Monday, 8 May 2017  
Inaburra School is going to Georges River College Peakhurst Campus on Monday, 22 May 2017
International Football School is going to Central Coast Grammar School on Friday, 12 May 2017
Inverell High School is going to Farrer Memorial Agricultural High School on Friday, 12 May 2017
Irrawang High School is going to Newcastle High School on Friday, 19 May 2017  
James Ruse Agricultural High School is going to Glenwood High School on Friday, 19 May 2017
John Edmondson High School is going to Moorebank High School on Thursday, 11 May 2017
Kambala is going to Ashfield Boys High School on Friday, 12 May 2017  
Karabar High School is going to Bomaderry High School on Friday, 12 May 2017  
Kellyville High School is going to Glenwood High School on Friday, 19 May 2017  
Killara High School is going to Hornsby Girls High School on Tuesday, 9 May 2017  
Kingscliff High School is going to Toormina High School on Tuesday, 16 May 2017  
Kirrawee High School is going to Georges River College Peakhurst Campus on Monday, 22 May 2017
Knox Grammar School is going to Normanhurst Boys High School on Wednesday, 17 May 2017
Lambton High School is going to Newcastle High School on Friday, 19 May 2017  
Lisarow High School is going to Central Coast Grammar School on Friday, 12 May 2017  
Liverpool Boys High School is going to Chester Hill High School on Friday, 12 May 2017  
Loreto Kirribilli is going to Normanhurst Boys High School on Wednesday, 17 May 2017  
Loreto Normanhurst is going to Hornsby Girls High School on Tuesday, 9 May 2017  
Macquarie Fields High School is going to Elderslie High School on Monday, 15 May 2017  
Macquarie Grammar School is going to SCEGGS Darlinghurst on Monday, 15 May 2017  
Maitland Grossmann High School is going to Newcastle High School on Friday, 19 May 2017
Maronite College of the Holy Family is going to Strathfield Girls High School on Friday, 19 May 2017
McCarthy Catholic College Emu Plains is going to Glenwood High School on Friday, 19 May 2017
Merewether High School is going to Newcastle High School on Friday, 19 May 2017  
Meriden School is going to Sydney Technical High School on Monday, 15 May 2017  
Monte Sant' Angelo Mercy College is going to Ryde Secondary College on Monday, 15 May 2017
Moorebank High School is going to Moorebank High School on Thursday, 11 May 2017  
Morisset High School is going to Central Coast Grammar School on Friday, 12 May 2017  
Moruya High School is going to Bomaderry High School on Friday, 12 May 2017  
Mount St Benedict College is going to Carlingford High School on Thursday, 18 May 2017  
Mulwaree High School is going to Bomaderry High School on Friday, 12 May 2017  
Nambucca Heads High School is going to Toormina High School on Tuesday, 16 May 2017
Narara Valley High School is going to Central Coast Grammar School on Friday, 12 May 2017
Newcastle Grammar School is going to Newcastle High School on Friday, 19 May 2017  
Newcastle High School is going to Newcastle High School on Friday, 19 May 2017  
Newington College is going to Ashfield Boys High School on Friday, 12 May 2017  
Newtown High School of Performing Arts is going to SCEGGS Darlinghurst on Monday, 15 May 2017
Normanhurst Boys High School is going to Normanhurst Boys High School on Wednesday, 17 May 2017
North Sydney Boys High School is going to Ryde Secondary College on Monday, 15 May 2017
North Sydney Girls High School is going to Ryde Secondary College on Monday, 15 May 2017
Northern Beaches Secondary College Mackellar Girls Campus is going to Hornsby Girls High School on Tuesday, 9 May 2017
Northern Beaches Secondary College Manly Campus is going to Hornsby Girls High School on Tuesday, 9 May 2017
Northlakes High School is going to Central Coast Grammar School on Friday, 12 May 2017
Our Lady of Mercy College is going to Strathfield Girls High School on Friday, 19 May 2017
Oxley High School is going to Farrer Memorial Agricultural High School on Friday, 12 May 2017
Parkes High School is going to Dubbo College South Campus on Monday, 15 May 2017  
Parramatta High School is going to Strathfield Girls High School on Friday, 19 May 2017  
Patrician Brothers' College Fairfield is going to Chester Hill High School on Friday, 12 May 2017
Peel High School is going to Farrer Memorial Agricultural High School on Friday, 12 May 2017
Penrith High School is going to Glenwood High School on Friday, 19 May 2017  
Prairiewood High School is going to Chester Hill High School on Friday, 12 May 2017  
Presbyterian Ladies' College is going to Sydney Technical High School on Monday, 15 May 2017
Randwick Boys High School is going to SCEGGS Darlinghurst on Monday, 15 May 2017  
Reddam House is going to Ashfield Boys High School on Friday, 12 May 2017  
Regents Park Christian School is going to Moorebank High School on Thursday, 11 May 2017
Riverside Girls High School is going to Ryde Secondary College on Monday, 15 May 2017  
Rooty Hill High School is going to Crestwood High School on Thursday, 18 May 2017  
Ryde Secondary College is going to Ryde Secondary College on Monday, 15 May 2017  
Santa Sabina College is going to Georges River College Peakhurst Campus on Monday, 22 May 2017
Sarah Redfern High School is going to Chester Hill High School on Friday, 12 May 2017  
SCEGGS Darlinghurst is going to SCEGGS Darlinghurst on Monday, 15 May 2017  
Sefton High School is going to Chester Hill High School on Friday, 12 May 2017  
Shore School is going to Ryde Secondary College on Monday, 15 May 2017  
Smiths Hill High School is going to Smiths Hill High School on Monday, 8 May 2017  
South Sydney High School is going to Ashfield Boys High School on Friday, 12 May 2017  
St Aloysius' College is going to Normanhurst Boys High School on Wednesday, 17 May 2017
St Dominic's College is going to Crestwood High School on Thursday, 18 May 2017  
St George Girls High School is going to Sydney Technical High School on Monday, 15 May 2017
St Ives High School is going to Normanhurst Boys High School on Wednesday, 17 May 2017
St John Bosco College is going to Sydney Technical High School on Monday, 15 May 2017
St Joseph's Catholic High School is going to Smiths Hill High School on Monday, 8 May 2017
St Leo's Catholic College is going to Normanhurst Boys High School on Wednesday, 17 May 2017
St Mary Star of the Sea College is going to Smiths Hill High School on Monday, 8 May 2017
St Marys Senior High School is going to Glenwood High School on Friday, 19 May 2017  
St Pius X College is going to Carlingford High School on Thursday, 18 May 2017  
St Vincent's College is going to Ashfield Boys High School on Friday, 12 May 2017  
Strathfield Girls High School is going to Strathfield Girls High School on Friday, 19 May 2017
Sydney Boys High School is going to SCEGGS Darlinghurst on Monday, 15 May 2017  
Sydney Girls High School is going to Ashfield Boys High School on Friday, 12 May 2017  
Sydney Grammar School is going to Ashfield Boys High School on Friday, 12 May 2017  
Sydney Technical High School is going to Sydney Technical High School on Monday, 15 May 2017
Taree High School is going to Toormina High School on Tuesday, 16 May 2017  
Temora High School is going to Trinity Anglican College Albury on Monday, 15 May 2017  
The Scots College is going to SCEGGS Darlinghurst on Monday, 15 May 2017  
The Scots School Bathurst is going to Dubbo College South Campus on Monday, 15 May 2017
Thomas Hassall Anglican College is going to Moorebank High School on Thursday, 11 May 2017
Toormina High School is going to Toormina High School on Tuesday, 16 May 2017  
Trinity Anglican College Albury is going to Trinity Anglican College Albury on Monday, 15 May 2017
Tweed River High School is going to Toormina High School on Tuesday, 16 May 2017  
Uralla Central School is going to Farrer Memorial Agricultural High School on Friday, 12 May 2017
Vincentia High School is going to Bomaderry High School on Friday, 12 May 2017  
Wadalba Community School is going to Central Coast Grammar School on Friday, 12 May 2017
Wade High School is going to Trinity Anglican College Albury on Monday, 15 May 2017  
Wagga Wagga High School is going to Trinity Anglican College Albury on Monday, 15 May 2017
Wenona School is going to Normanhurst Boys High School on Wednesday, 17 May 2017  
Willoughby Girls High School is going to Ryde Secondary College on Monday, 15 May 2017
Woonona High School is going to Smiths Hill High School on Monday, 8 May 2017  

Plain English Speaking Award Information

The Plain English Speaking Award aims to encourage the use of clear and effective spoken English. Since its inception in 1978, the competition has provided an opportunity for NSW senior students to improve their confidence and to develop their speech-writing and public speaking skills. Please note that you can download this information as a PDF by clicking here

What are the prizes?

The eventual national winner of this competition will win the right to compete in the international final in London and will receive return flights to London courtesy of BBM Ltd. The NSW winner will receive a medallion along with a cash prize of $250 courtesy of the Australia-Britain Society. The NSW winner’s school will also receive the Australia-Britain Shield for Plain English Speaking and the Westminster Stone. The six state finalists will receive medallions and a cash prize of $100 from the Australia-Britain Society. All students involved in the competition will receive a certificate acknowledging their participation, with certificates of congratulations awarded to all local and regional winners.

Who is eligible to compete?

The Plain English Speaking Award is open to NSW government and non-government secondary schools. Each school can enter a maximum of 2 contestants. Contestants must be either Australian citizens or permanent residents of Australia. Contestants must be between 15 and 18 years of age (inclusive) on 1 January 2017.

How do schools enter the Plain English Speaking Award?

The online entry form for the competition can be accessed by clicking here. Entries should be submitted before close of business on Thursday 23 March 2017. Please ensure that you include contact details for the teacher who will be looking after the entry. All teachers must provide a direct email address (preferably your departmental address for government school teachers) to assist with our organisation.

How much does entry cost?

The entry fee for the award is $28.00 (including GST) per government school student and $56.00 (including GST) per non-government school student. Government schools will automatically be debited for this amount once they submit their entry form. (Please advise your school’s finance department that this will occur). Non-government schools will be invoiced after their entries have been received. Please note that fees are due on entry and cannot be refunded even where students might subsequently withdraw.

What are the speaking requirements?

At each stage of the competition students present both a prepared speech and an impromptu speech. The prepared speech can be on any subject chosen by the contestant. The speaking time for the prepared speech is 8 minutes with a warning bell at 6 minutes, two bells at 8 minutes and a continuous bell at 9 minutes. The impromptu speech is on a subject chosen by the adjudicator. Contestants receive 3 minutes of preparation time to write their impromptu speech. The speaking time for the impromptu speech is 3 minutes with a warning bell at 2 minutes, two bells at 3 minutes, and a continuous bell at 4 minutes. Note that speakers are expected to finish at or just beyond the official speaking time, and it will be considered poor timing to reach the continuous bell.

What are the rules of the competition?

Other than the eligibility criteria and speaking times detailed above, it should also be noted that contestants are not allowed to use any props or external aids such as Powerpoint presentations during their speeches. They are encouraged to speak from palm cards and present from a stage without the use of a lectern or microphone. As mentioned above, there are no restrictions on the subject of the prepared speech, though speakers are of course encouraged to choose entertaining and thought-provoking topics to address. In the impromptu section, all contestants in a final will receive the same impromptu topic.

What are the adjudicators looking for?

The adjudicators will make their decision based on the manner, matter and method the contestants employ in presenting their speeches. They will expect contestants to be confident and engaging speakers. The speeches themselves should be developed logically to a convincing conclusion in the time allowed. The adjudicators will in particular be looking for knowledge of the subject matter, skilful development of the theme and the effective use of plain English. Successful contestants are also expected to demonstrate a balance of personal opinion and information in their speeches, as well as a balance of humour and sincerity. Finally, it should be noted that adjudicators are required to give equal consideration to the prepared and impromptu speeches in making their decision.

How does the competition run?

Schools may conduct their own internal competition to select 2 representatives for the Plain English Speaking Award. The Speaking Competitions Officer will then advise all contestants of the date and venue of their local final which will be held in late April and early May. The winners of local finals held in the Sydney metropolitan area will proceed to regional finals which will be held at The Arts Unit, Lewisham in late May and early June. Regional winners and local winners from outside the Sydney metropolitan area will proceed to the state semi-finals which will be held in Sydney on Friday 16 June. Six contestants will then be chosen to proceed to the state final at the NSW Teachers Federation Conference Centre on Friday 28 July. The winner of the state final will compete in a national final which will be held in Melbourne on Monday 14 August (please note that contestants may only appear once in the national final).

Who are the organisers and sponsors?

The competition is organised by The Arts Unit of the NSW Department of Education, and is proudly supported by the Australia-Britain Society and the NSW English-Speaking Union. The national competition is also proudly supported by BBM Youth Support.

If you have any questions about The Plain English Speaking Award, please contact Lloyd Cameron, Speaking Competitions Officer on (02) 8512 1172 or email: lloyd.cameron@det.nsw.edu.au.

Who are the past winners of the competition?

Congratulations to Tandee Wang from Sydney Technical High School who won the 2016 NSW Final of the Plain English Speaking Award at an event held at the NSW Teachers Federation Conference Centre on Friday 22 July. He then went on to become runner-up at the National Final, held at the Centenary Auditorium, Art Gallery of NSW on Monday 15 August. Congratulations also to the five other state finalists, who were Ella Finlay (MLC School), Emily Kim (North Sydney Girls High School), Max Koslowski (Sydney Boys High School), Lauren Park (Pymble Ladies' College) and Claire Yin (SCEGGS Darlinghurst). A list of all previous winners of The Plain English Speaking Award is available here, and below is the video of the 2016 state final. You can watch it either by clicking play here, or if you click on the title you'll be taken to Vimeo. There you'll have more options like being able to download the video or jump between the different speakers by clicking on their times. Congratulations on behalf of The Arts Unit to all six finalists on a great event!