Frequently Asked Questions
Ask us anything.
What is Sydney Speaking School?
Sydney Speaking School 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.
Who are your coaches?
We only hire experienced coaches from a variety of backgrounds who have many years’ experience in public speaking and, where appropriate, debating. Every coach has been handpicked 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 has a Working With Children Check done with the NSW Government.
What is your teaching philosophy?
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, afternoons and weekends, 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.
Why Sydney Speaking School?
Aside from our teaching philosophy being almost unique in a world of increasingly mass produced education, Sydney Speaking School is a business that has grown out of the idea that every student is able to speak in public with a little practice.
The founders of Sydney Speaking School, Mark Slaven and Daniel Dummer, were both rather average public speakers during their school years. Both joined the university 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 public speakers, eventually winning various competitions around Australia and competing in international tournaments.
Sydney Speaking School is the type of program they wish they could have attended when they were at school.
When do your holiday courses operate?
We run our programs every school holidays. Our programs will usually span both weeks of the Autumn, Winter and Spring holidays, and generally run over the last three weeks of the Summer holidays.
At what time of day do your holiday programs run?
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, and will be able to supervise children from this time. However, we do not offer any ‘after school care’ facilities at this stage, and so ask that students be picked up promptly after 3:00pm.
When do you open bookings for holiday courses?
We normally open bookings about a month before the holiday programs start. Given we are privileged enough to use rooms at Shore and The King’s School, 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!
Who can attend your holiday programs?
Our holiday programs are open to all students, male and female, privately and publicly educated, from Australia and from overseas. Given our purpose of facilitating confident students, we welcome all students to our programs, provided that they are in the correct year 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.
My child is in Year 2, can they attend your courses?
This is a call that we recommend that parents make based on their knowledge of their child. If their child is already confident, and would be able to fit comfortably in a social group made up of predominantly older students, such students have generally fit in with our programs well. However, if their child is shy and would be intimidated around a group of students in Years 3 & 4, we would generally recommend that they wait until next year when they will be in a class with their contemporaries.
Please feel free to get in touch if you would like to discuss this point further with us.
My child did Introduction to Debating or Foundations of Debating last holidays, what is next?
My child did Debating Club or Practice Debates last holidays, what is next?
Our Debating Club and Practice Debates courses are what we call ‘modular’ courses, meaning that they change from holiday to holiday, depending on the needs of the students present in the class. As such, it is appropriate and useful for students to continue honing their skills by attending the programs multiple times, as they will walk away with new skills each time.
More information about Debating Club can be found here.
More information about Practice Debates can be found here.
My child did Introduction to Public Speaking or Foundations of Public Speaking last holidays, what is next?
At this stage we unfortunately do not have a follow on course in public speaking, although we are looking at introducing one if there is sufficient demand. This said, many of the skills that make a good public speaker are readily practiced and developed through debating, and so we would recommend either our Introduction to Debating (for Years 5 – 6) or Foundations of Debating (for Years 7 – 9) as a good progression to help their child to develop further skills.
More information about Introduction to Debating can be found here.
More information about Foundations of Debating can be found here.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do your partnership programs work?
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.
How do your community programs work?
Our community programs are run much like our other programs, with the primary difference being that we run them out of community centres rather than through our partner organisations. This means that these programs, from enrollment to coaching, are entirely organised by Sydney Speaking School for its students, based on their needs.
As with all our programs, we keep class sizes small to ensure that every student is able to practice regularly and receive individual feedback to ensure that they progress at the best pace possible.
Do you do private tuition?
Unfortunately, due to the demand for private tuition, we have temporarily pulled out of providing this service due to the administrative burden it was putting on us. This was necessary to ensure that the quality of our term and holiday programs wasn’t compromised.
This said, we are hoping to enter into a partnership with another tutoring organisation which will allow our coaches to provide tuition without placing such a large administrative burden on Sydney Speaking School, so please watch this space – we will let everyone know as soon as an agreement is reached!