Middle School

4 July 2024

Year 9 Speech Competition

Jonathan Muir, Head of English

Year 9 ended the year exploring the art of speechwriting and public speaking.

We have looked at famous speeches from Sojourner Truth and Abraham Lincoln through to Mille Bobbie Brown, Emma Watson and Greta Thunberg. Students have learned from, borrowed from, and responded to these speeches in their own original speech on a topic of their choice – and what a range of fascinating and engaging topics they chose.

The final of our competition gives just a flavour of the range of ideas explored across the year group:

  • The Government should ban vaping
  • Why the internet is ruining generation alpha
  • Celebrities are normal people too
  • Rishi Sunak wearing Adidas Sambas trainers is criminal
  • UK prison reform
  • Why GCSE maths shouldn’t be compulsory
  • What is art?
  • How society’s priorities cause income disparity
  • There is no such thing as ‘good’ and ‘bad’
  • The forgotten autistic generation
  • Why being ordinary is extraordinary
  • Should students be allowed phones in schools?
  • Why there should be a tax on sugar

Congratulations to Sophia (9L), whose speech on Rishi Sunak’s trainer choices was awarded the top prize by our guest judge, Dr Pringle. Congratulations also to our three runners-up: Emily, Lucy and Mischa.

You can enjoy the text of Sophia’s winning speech below, although of course reading cannot replicate the confident and powerful presentation of the many speeches presented by every one of the participants.

Winning speech: Sophia

Criminal activity is rife in the UK. The police reported 6.7 million crimes in September 2023, from robberies to violence, but most of all, god how can I say it well- Rishi Sunak wearing adidas sambas. In April of this year, the atrocity happened. An interview of Sunak promoting tax cuts went viral pairing a white shirt, chinos, black socks and the original white adidas sambas together, arguably caused the uproar of the year.

I am here do do anything but convince you that its acceptable that Rishi can casually just pop them on and can expect that everything will be fine.

To put this in context, 35 million pairs of sambas have been sold from their release in 1949. Their popularity peaked in late 2023 due to celebrity style, such as Bella Hadid, Haley Bieber and Rhianna wearing them, and social media influence.

Newspapers have churned out titles slandering Rishi, and I don’t blame them. The guardian showed their hatred  by saying he was trying to ‘appear normal’ and British GQ said ‘he’s ruined it for everyone’. The daily mail declared their backlash and stated that the shoes looked ‘squeaky ,stiff and unconvincing, just like the man himself’ and further that ‘sambas aren’t just uncool-they’re a bit Tory.’ These stories were evidently accurate and inevitably true.

The fashion statement was painful to look at. Picture this: A grin with teeth so white its almost blinding that matches his white shirt, plastered with sweat onto him as he’s probably a lil nervous he’s telling people about taxes with black socks sticking awkwardly into the sambas. Overall, it was just not a look! This isn’t right. It isn’t fair, that sambas now have political connotations. Sunak’s persona has altered the way sambas are perceived- from trending and cool, to Tory and middle age-ish.

Young adults and teenagers have created the trainers to be a fashion staple. And now, every time anybody including YOU, puts on a pair of these comfy shoes (that looked anything but it on Rishi tbh) has to think about our middle aged prime minister. So, please raise your hand if you own adidas. But oh, now all you can think about is Rishi wearing them! How does this make you feel? NOT COOL Do you think this is right? NOT. AT. ALL.

I  also asked 9M in a survey whether they would wear a pair of the same, original sambas after the PM.  9% said they weren’t sure, 27% said they would regardless, and a whopping 64% said they wouldn’t! Doesn’t that say it all? If I asked every single girl in the year, let alone in our school, or even all the young people in the country surely the results would be the same- so I think this is the most instrumental point of my argument- in theory the whole of society doesn’t want Rishi wearing sambas.

The crime also leads to prominent ethical implications of this problem. The prime minister is the most powerful man in the country. Potentially with a large amount of influence. Should a man with these credentials be wearing branding? The connotations of this are due to this being so close to the general elections, is he trying to influence and appeal to a younger audience? Was Sunak trying to distract from the fact the video was promoting the governments tax cuts? So I also consider that these implications have an impact on the trainer’s ideology, and values, and whether people would want to wear them anymore.

I will acknowledge that Rishi did give a public apology on LBC- but it was pathetic, purposeless, and pretentious. He announced he’s been wearing them for years, highlighting the fact he was a ‘long time devotee’. However, he immediately retaliated by defending himself, and not particularly comprehending the affects, that I’ve explained in the course of this speech, that its had on society. Some of you will be thinking that he has free will and should be allowed to wear what he wants- but you must think again.

Yes he’s been a long time devotee, but I think you can agree with me and say that sambas are a bit past his time?

And so, this is what I leave you with. Is it right that our middle aged male prime minister is wearing the same pair of shoes that teenage girls including me are wearing? Is it right that a man of great power and influence wears them publicly? Finally, is it right that Rishi Sunak, has ruined adidas sambas? My work is done, now it up to you to believe the truth- that Rishi Sunak wearing adidas sambas is a crime. Thank you.

Find out more about the English curriculum at St Helen’s.


Jonathan Muir, Head of English

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