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Public Speaking and Debating

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Public Speaking
& Debating

Tara has a strong tradition of Debating and Public Speaking.


The girls develop their persuasive, research and team work skills in order to enhance their confidence and knowledge of current affairs. These skills are valuable not only in various competitions, but for all subjects and life beyond School. Debating and public speaking workshops are also run throughout the year.


Talkfest is an annual institution in the Junior School – a yearly opportunity for the girls to learn more about the craft of public speaking in a practical and engaging way. Public presentations are a necessary and exciting part of School life, university and work responsibilities, and competence in public speaking is vital to student success in and out of the classroom.

Talkfest lasts an entire term. During this time, public speaking skills are the focus of classroom language programs and provide opportunities for all girls to gain confidence and to communicate their ideas effectively to an audience. Additionally, as we develop the IB Learner Profile within our School community, Talkfest will help our students become courageous, knowledgeable, open-minded, inquirers, caring, balanced, thinkers, communicators, principled and reflective. 

Talkfest enables girls from Kindergarten to Year 6 to:

  • Develop confidence, fluency and ability to respond spontaneously
  • Learn to order their thoughts and think logically
  • Develop lateral thinking and imagination
  • Learn how to maintain the interest of the audience
  • Learn effective communication skills and the use of voice

Junior School Debating

Girls in Years 5 and 6 participate in a Debating Preparation Day where they learn about the intricacies of forming an argument, sustaining that argument across several speakers, and responding to counter arguments offered by the opposing team. As a result of this day, girls have an intimate appreciation for debating and can then nominate to join one of the two Stage 3 debating teams. These teams participate in the IPSHA Friday Afternoon Debating program, culminating in the annual IPSHA Debating Gala Day and IPSHA Speakers’ Challenge. 

Debating requires more than just the ability to argue. It also teaches the girls to be responsible, to meet deadlines, to be collaborative and interested in the world around them. Through debating, girls learn to truly listen, and in doing so, comprehend someone else’s position even if it is ultimately to refute their arguments.

More opportunities with public speaking in Junior School are available through the Tara Enrichment Centre.  

Public Speaking Competitions and events include Archdale (the main competition of the year), Festival of Speech, Interhouse Debating, History Debating, Macquarie School’s Cup and MUNA (Model United Nations). 


Team trials for Years 7 – 11 for the Archdale Competition take place during Term 1. Coaching sessions are required and there is a fee for this. These take place at flexible times suitable to coaches and the girls. Our debating coaches consist of previous Tara girls and University debaters.

MUNA Model United Nations Assembly

Held one weekend in May at a nominated District High School.

This is a competition run by various Rotary Club Districts. It allows students to have an opportunity to meet students from a variety of schools and to enhance their team work skills. Each school can enter up to two teams of three students. Each team is given a country from the United Nations and various topics that will be discussed on the day of the competition.

Macquarie Schools’ Cup 

Junior and Senior teams are selected based on interest and experience. The girls go to Macquarie University for a day and compete against a variety of different schools. They compete in three rounds on various topics.

Interhouse Debating Competition

Girls from each house in Years 7 – 11 are selected to debate on popular culture topics in order to win points and trophies for their house. Heats for each house are run at lunch time during Term 3. During the final, each year group winner receives a trophy and then each house with the most points based on their places receives a shield.

History Debating

This is available for Year 10 and Year 11 girls. It is organised through the History Department and based on the History Curriculum.

The University of Sydney NSW Schools Chinese Debating Competition 

This competition is run by The University of Sydney and is open to students from Years 9 – 12. Students sign up and form a team to debate in either Cantonese or Mandarin. They attend a training session once a week at Tara before or after school, as well as three compulsory debating rounds at Sydney University on allocated Saturday afternoons. This competition takes place from April – May. 

Friday Evening Debating

This competition takes place on Friday evenings in Term 1. There are two Year 7, 8 and Senior teams, as well as one Year 9 and one Year 10 team. The debates take place on Friday evenings from 5:45pm at Tara and various other schools, including co–educational, Independent and Selective. Coaching sessions take place once or twice a week, either before or after school. 

Public Speaking Competitions and events include Rotary Youth Speaker, Sydney Morning Herald Youth Speaker of the Year, OZ Speak, MUNA (Model United Nations) and Festival of Speech.

Rostrum, Rotary and NSW Plain Speaking Competitions

Tara girls are selected based on interest/experience. They compete at various schools either during school or after school hours. These competitions require the girls to prepare one speech and then have five minutes to prepare impromptu speeches. There is a preliminary round and then semi final and final stages. 

Festival of Speech

This allows girls to compete in the areas of current affairs, ethics, debating, drama, poetry and public speaking. Girls are selected based on interest and experience. The competition is held in Week 2 of Term 4 each year and is hosted by an Independent Girls’ School.

Tara Workshops

Tara also offers public speaking workshops and social debating. These are run by the Debating Prefect either after school or during lunch. Public Speaking Workshops also help Overseas students to enhance their English speaking and writing skills.

More opportunities in Senior School with public speaking are available through the Tara Enrichment Centre