Queen Elizabeth’s student wins national speaking competition

16 year old Nikhil Banerjee took the 2024 crown winning over £10,000 to further his education as well as £1,000 for his school

A prize winning young person stands on stage with an older person
Nikhil Banerjee and Gresham Provost Martin Elliott

Gresham College has announced Queen Elizabeth’s School student Nikhil Banerjee the winner of its second annual Oracy Competition, a competition for state school students aged 16 and 17 that promotes the importance of oracy throughout students’ academic and future careers. 

Twelve finalists from around the UK delivered their prepared answers to one of Gresham College’s pre-set questions to a panel in London. 16 year old Nikhil Banerjee took the 2024 crown on 26th March 2024, winning over £10,000 to further his education as well as £1,000 for his school, Queen Elizabeth’s School in Barnet.

The Gresham Competition, which began in 2023, showcases the communication skills of state school students in Year 12 (England and Wales), S5 (Scotland), and Year 13 (Northern Ireland). The event emphasises Gresham College’s dedication to promoting oracy skills and the importance of effective public speaking among young learners.

Sharing his thoughts on, “Could genome editing consign genetic diseases to history and would that be ethical?”, a question given by Professor Robin May, Nikhil presented his winning presentation to the panel of judges, as well as a room of industry professionals, peers and journalists. 

Nikhil said: “This event is one of the most prestigious competitions for students in the UK. It was such an honour to make it to the final and I can’t believe that I’ve won against such a competitive field.

“The prize will make a big difference in supporting my further education and it’s great that my school benefits too as they have supported me throughout this journey.”

Banerjee received £9,250 towards their first-year university tuition and £1,000 for a laptop from Gresham College following their win.

Gresham College, the first institute of Higher Education in London, has been providing free public education across the arts and sciences since 1597 and is also a registered charity in England and Wales. Through this competition, they aim to showcase the importance of oracy competence and the art of communicating.

This year’s competition featured an expanded range of topics, including law, health, artificial intelligence, and science. Participants were required to submit recorded presentations, written summaries, and detailed source documentation before the finalists were decided. This broader scope encouraged students to explore diverse subjects and develop their intellectual curiosity.

Chair of the Judging Panel, Professor Sarah Hart, said: “Nikhil’s presentation in particular demonstrated a thorough grasp of a complex issue, one of the most challenging ethical debates of our time. His argument was reasoned and powerful.”

Professor Martin Elliott, Provost at Gresham College, said: “Through our competition, students were not only able to showcase their oracy skills but also engage with significant academic research that will open them up to new areas of learning. Many congratulations to all students who made the final, as we know each one of you has a bright future ahead of you.”

More information of the Gresham Competition can be found here:

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