TAVISTOCK College students are through to the national semi-finals of a public speaking competition – with one team achieving the highest-ever score.

The school's public speakers have been crowned district champions in both the intermediate and senior categories of the Rotary Youth Speaks competition — titles the college also claimed last year — and are busy preparing for the next round in Cheddar.

Teacher Sally Hubbard said: 'They all did brilliantly. They were so informative and engaging and thoughtful. They woke the audience up and made them listen; I'm really proud of them all.'

The intermediate district championship was won by Flo Rodgers, Jed Coiley and Joe Way with a speech about etiquette in modern society. They scored very high marks and were faultless in their delivery.

Mrs Hubbard said: "The senior competition was very close and the judges spent a nerve-wracking age deciding. It was won by George Rodgers, Beni Evans and Charlie Hubbard with a speech about the process of university admissions. They beat the other Tavistock College team by only one point — and that was a time penalty.

'Second, very narrowly, were Katy Hyde, Hannah Keane and Lara Hopkins who spoke on human cloning. It was a very close run event and it is brilliant that Tavistock came out both first and second beating other excellent, eloquent teams.

'The girls were fantastic and, although disappointed to leave the competition, they know how close it was.'

The teams received terrific support from parents, siblings and friends, as well as representatives from the local Rotary club which travelled to Bodmin for the district championships to watch them.

The two winning sides now progress to the fourth round — the national semi final — on Saturday.

The students have faced stiff competition from Devon and Cornwall schools to make it this far. The first round took place at Kelly College, with Tavistock entering one team in the intermediate category and three in the senior class. Only one team could progress in the intermediate category and two from the senior competition, so Mrs Hubbard was extremely proud to see all three slots claimed by Tavistock College.

Mrs Hubbard added: 'Jack Shepherd, Tom Rodgers and Adam Browner, who spoke on scientific research, did not make it through to the next round. Their past speeches have been hilarious. They decided to go serious this time which was a gamble, but their style left its mark and we saw many contestants seeking to emulate them.'

In the second round at Callington, George, Beni and Charlie stormed to victory in the senior category, achieving the highest-ever score in the process. Lara, Katy and Hannah scooped second place after defeating the rest of the competition.

In the intermediate category, Joe, Flo and Jed took first place and secured a place at the district championships in Bodmin.

Mrs Hubbard said: 'This team were way beyond any opposition. We have some fantastic students and judges said our teams were significantly above other schools.'