Speaking Schools Australasia is a privately run organisation which seeks to improve public speaking and debating skills for school age students.
We are not your usual coaching college operation – born from the idea that everyone, regardless of their natural ability, can speak publicly and speak well, we run a variety of courses both during the school holidays and school term with the view to helping students develop their skills and speak with confidence.
In order to achieve this goal, we do not have a ‘brick and mortar’ base, but rather run our programs through partner organisations and on school campuses. However, given the importance of spreading a culture where all students can speak with confidence, we make sure that our courses are open to all students regardless of where they come from.
Our mission is to provide children with the soft skills and resilience they need to confidently navigate a constantly changing world.
We facilitate this through offering the best possible public speaking and debating programs to as many students as possible, regardless of background. By providing students with fun, welcoming and safe environments, we aim to improve students critical thinking, communication and teamwork skills, all the while helping them build confidence, empathy and resilience.
Our teaching philosophy has three tiers.
Firstly, the safety of the students is paramount. We do not allow our coaches to conduct any activities unless the students are safe.
Secondly, the students need to have fun. We have no illusions that these are our students’ school holidays, and that the only way they’ll listen and pick up skills is by enjoying themselves. We use a range of techniques to ensure that the students maintain their attention by mixing theory with practice, and by using games that teach speaking skills without the students even realising that they’re actually being exposed to something new.
Thirdly, the students should learn. Importantly, we believe in learning by doing – that students will only walk away with a new set of skills if they have had the opportunity to practice them. This is why we keep class sizes small – to ensure that every student has an opportunity to speak, and that every student gets ample personalised feedback so they can improve.
We only hire experienced coaches who have a deep understanding of public speaking and/or debating. Every coach has been handpicked for their knowledge of public speaking and/or debating, and carefully allocated to the programs that best suit their skills. Noting that our students’ safety is our highest priority, we ensure that every coach has a Working With Children Check done with the NSW Government (or equivalent).
You can find out more about our coaches on our Coaches Webpage.
We have a four step process for selecting coaches:
We genuinely believe that whilst our online programs look and feel a little different, they are just as effective in helping students develop their speaking abilities.
Unlike most providers, we run all our online programs live in small classes – nothing is pre-recorded, and everything happens in real time. This means that coaches are able to adapt their teaching style to the class that they actually have, leading to the best possible learning outcomes for students.
Students are also given just as many opportunities to practice in front of an audience – whilst not physically present, students can still see all their peers’ faces on the computer screen, providing them with an audience that feels (and is) very real. This means that students are still able to apply the theory they learn, develop their confidence, and crucially receive indvidualised feedback in real time.
If you’d like to learn more, check out the video below to see how it all works:
All of our online intensive programs run for eight sessions over four days, with each session being 1.5 hours long, and a good half an hour break between the two sessions.
So, for example, if the program was scheduled for 9:30am to 1:00pm each day, the first session that day would be from 9:30am to 11:00am, with a half an hour break before the second session between 11:30am and 1:00pm.
Students won’t be starting at the screen all day either – they will get a short break in the middle of each session, and will be encouraged to prepare their practice speeches (at least one every session) on paper, as they would in a physical classroom setting.
Last updated 9 March 2020
As of mid-March 2020, the novel coronavirus known as COVID-19 has spread to Australia.
At this stage, we know the following:
Currently, there are travel bans in place for China, Iran and South Korea (and travel restrictions from Italy), with the Australian Government considering further steps to help contain the spread of COVID-19. To date, only one school (Epping Boys High School) has been closed for one day, after a single student caught the virus from their mother.
Whilst children appear to not be at a particularly high risk, SSA places their safety (and the safety of our coaches) as our highest priority. This is the first tier of our teaching policy.
We have developed an action plan to help prevent the spread of the virus and keep our students safe – please check it out to learn more about what we’re doing!
As of early March 2020, the risk of transmission at one of our programs is extremely low. This is for three reasons:
If we work together, we can minimise risk and remain safe over the next few months.
Even though the chance of transmission is already very low, we have taken a range of steps to make our classes as safe as possible.
We have advised all parents that, if their child (or someone else in the family) is showing symptoms that resemble COVID-19, they should stay home from programs.
This is consistent with the Australian Government’s position, which has now recommended that everyone who is showing symptoms isolate themselves and get tested as soon as possible.
Before Programs Start
Before each class, we ensure that commonly used surfaces have been decontaminated.
COVID-19 can remain on surfaces for at least a few hours, and potentially longer, so this helps ensure that students are safe if a previous user of the room has contaminated any surfaces.
At the beginning of each class, students will have their temperatures taken using a non-contact infrared thermometer. This will show whether they have a fever, which is the generally the first presenting and most common symptom of COVID-19. People are most contagious when they are showing symptoms, so this will allow us to test and exclude any students who are symptomatic before they enter the classroom.
It is important to note that the devices we are using are non-invasive, and do not touch the skin – they obtain the students’ temperatures from a 2-3 centimetre distance by pointing the device at their temple and pressing a button. As there is no contact, the device cannot transmit the virus from one student to another.
There should be almost no possibility of transmission of the virus when the above steps are taken. Each class will control for previous contamination and transmission from current students, and remove the primary causes of both.
However, as an extra precaution, we are taking the following students:
Taken together, we are of the genuine belief that students are as safe as possible in our classes – you can find out more about our action plan here.
If the situation deteriorates, and either the Government requests that we close our programs or we no longer feel that students will be safe at our programs, we have a three options available to parents.
Option #1 – Online Classes
The first option will be to enrol in alternative online classes.
We have been running online classes since April 2018, and have honed the art of the online classroom. We have developed a range of methods to ensure that students get the most out of our classes, despite often being miles apart.
Each of our programs takes our key teaching principles into account – putting safety first, enjoyment second, and then using these welcoming and fun environments to drive student learning.
To date, we have run dozens of programs, and have taught 1,200+ students online using our well-established knowledge of effective online education.
The exact details of these programs will be determined when (and if) we are forced to run online programs, rather than physical ones.
Option #2 – Credits
The second option will be to receive a credit for a future program.
The epidemic will likely reach its peak by the middle of the year (if not sooner), and will die down as time progresses, and you will be able to use the credit for future weekly, holiday or online programs later in the year.
Option #3 – Refunds
If we cancel our programs, we will also make refunds available to parents.
With the above in mind, we anticipate that all programs we are currently enrolling will go ahead – you can see more about our action plan here.
Our beginner level programs are designed for students with little or even no experience – there is no assumed knowledge for any of the novice programs. Even the most shy of students are more than welcome to join, and will get plenty out of our programs.
For students in older years, they would also be more than welcome to join either public speaking or debating on their first time through – whilst they are different in many respects, both are perfect for building confidence and have no assumed knowledge.
If your child doesn’t have any experience, the best thing to do is to simply join the beginner program for their age group. If you’re after holiday programs, you should look into:
If you’d prefer to give term programs a try, you might want to check out:
Generally, we recommend that students do our beginner programs before they have a go at a continuer program. This is important, as we don’t want students to feel inadequate or behind their peers when they join a program – this can lead to confidence issues, and lead to the student leaving the programs with a greater fear of public speaking, something we definitely want to avoid.
That said, if students have proper formal coaching over a long period of time, they should have no trouble joining our more experienced programs. This should be more than a couple of school debates or some presentations in class.
If you’re not sure about which program would be best for your child, please don’t hesitate to get in touch!
If your child has already completed one of our novice programs, there are plenty of options available to them to further develop their skills!
Check out the below links to see what we would generally recommend that your child do next:
We’ve got plenty of programs for students of all levels – even if your child has completed a continuer program, there are still definitely opportunities for them to continue to flourish with our programs.
The best program will likely depend on what course your child has already completed – please have a look at the below links to see what we would generally recommend your child do next:
Generally we recommend that students remain with their own age group – not only have we designed each program for the developmental stage of each age group, but also students generally have a better time and develop better as speakers when they are with students of a similar age.
That said, there are limited circumstances where we will allow students to move to a program with a higher age group – if you’re thinking of doing so, please get in touch to discuss it with us before enrolling!
We strongly recommend waiting until Year 1 before enrolling in our Tabby Cats or Tigers holiday programs, or our Leopards and Lions term programs – all our Cats programs require students to be able to write at least simple sentences, as well as read their own handwriting and instructions on the board, which most Kindergarten students are unfortunately not able to do. This may well lead to those students feeling inferior to the rest of the class, creating new fears around public speaking – the exact opposite of what we hope to achieve.
If you think that your child has sufficient reading and writing skills, we would be more than happy to talk it through with you – alternatively, we would also be more than happy to add you to our email list so we can let you know when bookings open when your child is old enough to join!
The Creative Kids program is run by the NSW Government, and allows parents to claim one $100 voucher per year for each of their school aged children. This voucher can then be redeemed with authorised providers (including Speaking Schools), reducing the cost of attending workshops.
The voucher itself takes the form of a 16 digit number, generally starting with ‘9999’. These vouchers can only be used once, and you will only be allocated one per child – please don’t try to submit the same voucher a second time!
In order to be eligible for a Creative Kids voucher, you must have a child aged between 4.5 to 10 years old, who has a current Medicare Card and is enrolled at a school in NSW.
If you meet these requirements, you can apply for a Creative Kids voucher online – you can find out more on the Service NSW website.
Under the rules provided by the NSW Government, you can only apply once per year for a Creative Kids voucher, and it can only be redeemed once.
We advise against submitting a Creative Kids voucher that has previously been redeemed – if this happens, we’ll do what we can to sort it out, but we may need to you to pay the difference if we’re advised by Service NSW that you are no longer entitled to use the voucher.
There are a number of key differences between the two.
First, an Active Kids voucher is for physical and sporting activities, such as soccer or dancing, whilst a Creative Kids voucher is for creative activities, such as public speaking or debating.
Second, an Active Kids voucher generally starts with a ‘5’, whilst a Creative Kids voucher generally starts with a ‘9’ – this can help distinguish between the two!
Third, given we only provide coaching for creative activities, we are only able to accept Creative Kids vouchers – if you try to submit an Active Kids voucher, the booking system will likely not allow it.
If you’ve tried submitting a voucher only to find that it was actually an Active Kids voucher, never fear – you are still able to apply for one through the Service NSW website.
There are a few reasons why your voucher may not be working:
If you don’t think any of the above apply to you, please get in touch and we’ll help sort it out!
Please note that we will not be running physical programs during the April school holidays due to the COVID-19 outbreak – if you would be interested in joining the fun, please check out our online program offerings for the break!
We run programs every holiday, and have done since 2015!
They usually run on each weekday of the holidays (except public holidays) at a range of venues around Sydney. Classes generally run between 9:00am and 3:00pm, although we set up the sign in desk from about 8:40am, and have a paid supervision service until 5:00pm at most venues.
Whilst we do definitely run programs over the Summer, we usually only run from mid-January to the end of the holidays. Unfortunately we’re not running any holiday programs in December over the private school holiday period at this stage.
We have a number of different venues for holiday programs!
We have been running at the Shore School in North Sydney every holiday since January 2015, and at the King’s School since July 2016. After running programs at a range of other locations, we’ve also settled on Sydney Boys High School in Moore Park (since September 2019) and Southern Cross Vocational College in Burwood (since January 2020) as our third and fourth locations respectively.
We’re still hoping to open more centres around Sydney – please feel free to sign up to our newsletter to hear about any new locations!
Holiday bookings normally open around Week #5 of term – that said, it will sometimes be a little earlier, and sometimes a little later, depending on the venues.
Because we use rooms at schools, and require confirmation that we can use the rooms before we open bookings, we unfortunately can’t take any bookings before then.
We always send out an email to parents as soon as bookings open, so please make sure you’re on our mailing list if you don’t want to miss out!
There are a few benefits that intensive programs have over weekly sessions.
First, intensive programs allow students to implement feedback within hours or sometimes even minutes of receiving it. Rather than waiting a week to have another shot at giving a speech – quite a long time when you think about it – they put it into practice there and then, meaning that they’re better able to both implement the feedback and develop as a speaker.
Second, intensive programs help students piece together the various different lessons in a more coherent manner. We use a building block style of education – providing students with the various individual concepts they need, and helping them put the puzzle together to create a holistic understanding of public speaking and/or debating. There aren’t big gaps between these lessons in intensive programs, helping them retain a clearer picture of each idea, making the overall puzzle easier to piece together.
Third, they’re often conducive to a more enjoyable and fun class environment. Most students who attend our programs do so without knowing anyone in the class – it is much easier to make new friendships when you spend multiple sequential days together, which in turn gives students a more positive experience of the program. It’s our hope that students then associate such a positive experience with public speaking, helping them overcome any fears they might have held.
That said, there are also a number of advantages of doing weekly programs (see below) – if possible, we generally recommend students have a crack at both!
Before class starts at 9:00am, we will generally open the sign in desk from about 8:40am – you are more than welcome to leave your child with us once they’ve been signed in.
We also have a paid supervision service after class wraps up at 3:00pm – for $20 per student, per day, we’ll run an afternoon supervision service until 5:00pm. Whilst we won’t do any extra teaching during this period, we’ve got a range of activities to help keep the kids engaged while they wait!
If you’re interested in afternoon supervision, please tick the relevant boxes during the checkout period, or get in touch with us and we’ll be able to organise it for you.
We absolutely do!
We run four holiday programs for high school students in Years 7 – 9:
Please note that we will not be running physical programs during Term #2 due to the COVID-19 outbreak – that said, keep an eye out for online term programs, which are being being trialed in Term #1, and will be ready to enrol soon!
For all of our weekly term programs (except St Leonards), we work with a partner organisation to help bring the programs to life. Under this system, we have agreements with various coaching colleges around Sydney, where we provide the coach and materials, and they provide the venue and administrative assistance.
This means that we can not only provide 100% assurances to parents about the quality of the programs – they are all taught by our own staff, who meet our rigorous standards – but it also allows us to run programs in a much larger range of locations than would otherwise be available.
Importantly, we make sure that we charge the exact same amount as our partners for our weekly term programs, so regardless of who you enrol with, there shouldn’t be any difference in fees.
The only exception to this is our St Leonards Campus, where we run term programs internally out of our office space.
Our weekly term programs run nearly every week of the school year!
Depending on the venue, classes generally run in the afternoon on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and/or Thursday, as well as Saturday mornings. Please have a look at our individual term programs to see what days and times they’re running!
Our list of term venues is always increasing, but at the moment we’re running programs at:
If you’re interested in learning more, please have a look at our individual term programs to see whether they’re running at your preferred location!
For term programs, we normally let parents decide whether they want to re-enrol their child in the penultimate week of the term.
Once they’ve received their opportunities, and then open up enrolments for any remaining places to other parents, generally in the last week of the preceding term.
We always send out an email to parents as soon as bookings open, so please make sure you’re on our mailing list if you don’t want to miss out!
There are lots of advantages to doing weekly term programs!
First, there are just simply more teaching hours. Because programs are held once a week for two hours, students will normally get between 16 – 20 learning hours across the term. This is plenty of time to learn a range of new concepts – particularly when the sessions are spaced so far apart, and there isn’t any learning fatigue from one session to the next.
Second, concepts are learned over an extended period of time between 8 – 10 weeks. This means that, down the track, students are more likely to recall key concepts that they’ve learned, as they have been reiterated over the course of one or more terms.
Third, the short weekly bursts can help shy students wage a war of attrition on their fear of public speaking. Having separate sessions can allow students to overcome their shyness one lesson at a time – first becoming comfortable just standing before the group, before moving onto speaking a few words and finally presenting with confidence. There are always missteps along the way, but the breaks between each session allows students to hit the reset button when things don’t go to plan!
That said, there are also a number of advantages of doing intensive programs (see above) – if possible, we generally recommend students have a crack at both!
Unfortunately not at this stage – but we do definitely run holiday programs for high school students!
Currently we run four holiday programs for high school students in Years 7 – 9:
Debating and public speaking is an increasingly important aspect of the modern Australian schooling landscape, whether as part of the curriculum or through extra-curricular programs. This is consistent with the growing recognition in the education literature of the importance of public speaking and debating – both for helping improve resilience in the short term, but also by providing students with the crucial life skills they need to properly flourish in the future.
Whilst teachers are experts in their respective fields, whether it be English, history, science or maths, not all teachers are comfortable teaching public speaking and debating, or even if they are, know quite where to start. This is where we can help. As experts in public speaking and debating who have taught thousands of students both locally and abroad, Speaking Schools is perfectly placed to fill this potential gap in your school.
If you’re interested in hearing more about what we can offer your school, please don’t hesitate to drop us a line!
There are two ways in which we can help with your school’s ongoing debating programs.
First, we can provide your school with a range of teaching materials that cover the necessary concepts of debating and outline activities that focus on a range of different skills. These materials are regularly updated, separated by skill level and are modular in nature, meaning that schools can adapt it to the abilities and needs of their students.
Second, we can run the coaching program at your school. This involves providing coaches in addition to our materials, and managing the debating program over the course of the year. Whilst we are open to retaining existing coaches, we will ensure that they are trained and up to the high standards that we demand of all our teaching staff.
Speaking Schools is well equipped to run one-off seminars on a range of topics. As experts in communication skills generally, we are not limited to presenting on just public speaking or debating (although we are very willing and able to do so). Rather, we are able to speak on a range of other areas, including leadership, textual analysis and interview skills.
Seminars can be either half or full-day sessions, and can be easily tailored to the specific needs of your school.
In addition to helping students learn something new, we also offer the opportunity to upskill your school’s coaches. Depending on your specific needs, we can run coaches through how to teach the basic elements of debating, how to prioritise what content to share with students on certain topic areas and general strategies for controlling a classroom.
Like our seminars, we are able to run this as a one-off session tailored to your school’s individual needs.
“Mark and his team from Speaking Schools Australasia were wonderful to work with. They gave students thorough and insightful feedback on their speaking skills and always communicated in a positive and coherent manner. Their expertise, organisation, and courtesy were very much appreciated. The students got a lot out of working with you during this competition. Thank you so much, we look forward to working with you in the future.”
Celia Kemeny, Head of the Power of Speech Elective, Amity College
“Over the last two years Speaking Schools have run seminars for our boys and the improvement has been outstanding. They catered to our needs and times and were accommodating of all requests. The presenters were excellent and informative. Our students enjoyed the experience and the skills they learnt can be used over their time at school and into the future.”
Denise Williams, Year 7 Coordinator, Parramatta Marist High School
Generally, our weekly term programs look at providing students with ongoing opportunities to learn, practice and refine public speaking and debating skills, and to facilitate continuous learning which will stick with the students throughout their school years right through their lives. As with all our programs, we make sure that our weekly programs involve the educational trifecta of expert coaches, small classes and enjoyable courses – all of which we are able and willing to provide.
For most of our weekly term programs, we work with a partner organisation to help bring the programs to life. Under this system, we have agreements with various coaching colleges around Sydney, where we provide the coach and materials, and they provide the venue and administrative assistance. Whilst both the coaching college and Speaking Schools are able to take bookings, the programs themselves form part of the general offering of the coaching college.
We offer weekly term programs for primary school students between Years 1 – 6, so please don’t hesitate to reach out if you’d be interested in discussing how we might be able to work together!
We offer a range of weekly public speaking programs for students in primary school, including:
Our focus initially assists students in coming to their own opinions on a range of topics, before providing them with the tools that allow them to properly articulate their message in the form of a speech.
Our programs are broken up firstly between year groups, and then by level of experience – we have a number of programs for continuers, and so have plenty of content to keep students engaged term after term.
If you’re a coaching college looking to create or expand your public speaking or debating offering, whether because you love public speaking yourself, feel that your students would benefit from it or simply want to broaden your coaching college’s appeal, we are always open to having a discussion and potentially assisting you with that process.
Please don’t hesitate to get into touch to see how we can help you increase your offering and student base.
Couldn’t find an answer to your question in the FAQ? Get in touch with us directly, and we will be in touch as soon as we can!