Frequently Asked Questions

General

Speaking Schools Australasia is a privately run organisation which seeks to improve the public speaking and debating skills of students of all ages.

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 at all times off the year – including both one-off workshops and weekly programs – 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.

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 student’s safety is our highest priority, we ensure that every coach is personally interviewed, has an appropriate reference, and has the relevant government check to ensure that they are safe to work with children.

You can find out more about our coaches on our Coaches webpage.

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 up theory with practice, and by using games that teach public speaking without the students even realising that they’re actually being taught 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.

Aside from our teaching philosophy being almost unique in a world of increasingly mass produced education, Speaking Schools Australasia is an organisation that has grown out of the idea that every student is able to speak in public with a little practice.

The founders of the philosophy at the core of Speaking Schools Australasia, Mark Slaven and Daniel Dummer, were both rather average public speakers during their school years.  Both joined the debating circuit at university, and were roundly defeated in their early tournaments.  It was only through perseverance and hard work that they both grew as speakers, eventually running national tournaments, winning various other competitions around Australia and successfully representing their university and competing in championships around the globe.

Speaking Schools Australasia runs the type of programs what they wish they could have attended when they were at school.

Holiday Programs

We run programs during every school holidays, usually spanning both weeks of the public school breaks in Sydney, and the last week of the holidays in Canberra.

All of our holiday programs are either 2 or 3 days long, and run between 9:00am and 3:00pm.  We are normally at the sign in desk by 8:30am, but ask that you pick your children up promptly at the end of the day.

If you are unable to pick up your child at 3:00pm, we now also offer a paid supervision service until 5:00pm.  If you intend on using this service, please ensure that you include it when you book the relevant program.

We normally open bookings about five weeks before the holiday programs start.  Given we are privileged enough to use rooms at excellent schools in both Sydney and Canberra, we normally have to wait until this time before the room bookings are confirmed.

If you’re interested in booking in for the upcoming holidays but bookings haven’t opened yet, you’re able to register your interest here, and we will get in contact with you as soon as the programs open!

Our holiday programs are open to all students, male and female, privately and publicly educated, from Australia and from overseas. Given our purpose of helping students to develop their confidence regardless of their ability or background, we welcome all students to our programs, provided that they are in the correct age groups.

This is reflected in the fact that most of our courses will usually have a relatively even gender split (although given the small class sizes, this is not always the case), and that we often have more students from public schools than private schools.

This is a call that we recommend that parents make based on their knowledge of their child using two considerations.

First, we ask that parents are sure their child has sufficient reading and writing skills that they would be able to write their ideas down on palm cards, and read them to the class. If this is not the case, students are likely to struggle with the activities, and may form a negative perception of public speaking, which is the exact opposite of what we want.

Second, we ask that parents are sure that their child is already confident enough that they would be able to socialise with 6 and 7 year old students without any issues. If this is not the case, its unlikely they’re going to have a particularly fun time at the programs.

If you’re not sure and want further guidance, please feel free to get in touch if you would like to discuss what would be best for your child with us.

Weekly Term Programs (Sydney Only)

We run our term programs in association with our partner organisations all over Sydney.

Our term course partnerships are actually pretty simple arrangements.  Most importantly, we provide both the coaches and the materials, and retain complete creative control over what is taught in the courses.  Whilst our partner organisations can request that we look toward reaching certain learning objectives, we are responsible for determining the teaching method by which we get there.  We also specify the maximum class sizes in order to keep classes small.  This is all very important to us, as it ensures that we are able to provide the quality courses for which we are known.

With this very important exclusion, the classes otherwise operate as if they were normal sessions organised by the partner organisation. This means that the sessions are run at the partner organisation’s venue, and that all of the booking processes are undertaken by the partner organisation. Whilst we are more than happy to discuss the program in further detail before you join, once this has happened we will invariably refer you on to a representative of the partner organisation, whom we trust, to complete the enrollment process.

If you’re interested in joining one of our weekly term programs, please get in touch and we’ll put you onto the best person to help you!

We are of the view that private tuition is not particularly helpful for learning how to debate or speak in public. Whilst you can teach both from a theoretical perspective in a one-on-one session, many of the practical skills can’t be effectively put into practice without an audience.

That said, if there is a specific competition or presentation your child is preparing for, please get in touch and we will ask our coaches if anyone is interested in providing private coaching for a few sessions to help your child develop their speech.