Talking History

A history public speaking competition for pupils in years 5 and 6

Published: 5th January 2024

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Get Vocal with Local

Entries to the 2024 competition are now closed.

Following the success of our Great Debate competition for secondary students, we are delighted to announce that we are piloting a new history public speaking competition for primary pupils. 

Who is my local history hero? 

The question of the Talking History competition this year is who is my local history hero?

Who is that statue of in your town or village centre? Have you learned about other local significant individuals who have done important things and wondered why there is no statue of them? In this competition, we want to hear all about your local history hero. The person you choose should be somebody you have researched from your local area who has made an impact locally, nationally and perhaps even internationally but who maybe doesn’t get the recognition you feel they deserve.

What do I have to do?

You are invited to research and prepare a talk to share the story of a significant individual, from your own locality, telling us why this person should be remembered or better remembered. Talks must be no more than 5 minutes in length and must demonstrate the knowledge you have developed from research as well as your argument for why this person deserves to be recognised.

It is advised that schools wishing to participate should hold an internal school/class competition first to decide upon the 2 (maximum per school) entries to put forward and enter into the Historical Association heats.

In May and June 2024, a series of up to 10 virtual heats will take place and the winner of each heat will go forward to a virtual final held in early July.

Good luck!

What will I win?

The winner of the final will win:

  • a £25 voucher
  • an HA goody bag
  • a year’s HA membership for their school
  • a commemorative certificate
  • a commemorative notebook

Why enter a competition focusing on history and oracy?

Throughout history, information and argument has been shared orally through storytelling, conversations and narratives where different perspectives are shared. Making a convincing case and presenting orally with confidence is an essential life skill and often the forerunner to being able to write effectively about something. If pupils can talk effectively about an issue, they are far more likely to write well about it too!   

The Historical Association recognises the importance of oracy skills in enabling our primary historians to: 

  • Articulate their ideas. Through the process of researching, organising and presenting their learning, primary historians will learn how to articulate their ideas clearly and engage with an audience: these are valuable skills within the wider world. 
  • Develop critical thinking. By researching and communicating historical concepts and narratives with growing complexity, primary historians will learn to draw their own conclusions and justify these while appreciating different perspectives.
  • Gain deeper understanding and appreciation of the past. Through the process of sifting through historical evidence to inform their presentation, primary historians will expand their knowledge of the past, broadening their historical perspectives. 
  • Grow in confidence. Through sharing their learning orally, children gain confidence in speaking to a real audience: a transferable and desirable skill, applicable to many contexts. Confidence in using the spoken word is also an essential precursor to writing historically which children will become accustomed to as they move through upper KS2, writing for increasingly sustained periods, as they move on through their secondary education.

Above all, taking part is an interactive and engaging approach to learning history in which children are empowered to explore, express and appreciate the significance and relevance of the past.

Heats will be taking place in May and June, with the final taking place in early July.

Heat dates:

  • Tuesday 21 May
  • Thursday 23 May
  • Wednesday 5 June
  • Tuesday 11 June
  • Thursday 20 June

Please register your interest by emailing 


  1. The competition is open to all pupils (including internationally) in years 5/6 (or equivalent) in the academic year 2023/4.
  2. Schools are required to hold their own ‘heat’ or competition in which no more than two children will be put forward for judging in the virtual heats run by the Historical Association.
  3. All entries must be received by the HA by Friday 10 May 2024
  4. Entrants will create a 3-5 minute (max) presentation and no shorter than 2 minutes minimum based on their own research or on their ‘local study’ taught within school.
  5. The judges’ decision is final.
  6. Presentations must demonstrate historical research as well as argument.
  7. Virtual heat dates will be published by the end of May 2024. All pupils being put forward to the virtual heats must have the correct permissions and be available to attend more than one of the published dates. We will do our best to accommodate preferences for heat dates, but cannot guarantee this. All heats will run at 3.30pm unless otherwise stated. All pupils attending the virtual heats must have an adult accompanying them.
  8. We reserve the right to substitute prizes for equivalents where it is necessary. 

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