Rules, Child Protection and Safer Festival Statement

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    The International Oratory Festival is fun! Our judges are really friendly, and will give you really useful feedback to ensure that you grow in confidence and can return to our next Festival as an even better orator.

    That said, we do have some rules. Everyone who enters is required to abide by our full set of rules, which are given below, alongside some friendly tips!

    The International Oratory Festival takes place using the English language. We celebrate the range of accents and dialects used to speak English around the world. We encourage you to speak with your own voice, while ensuring that your pace and diction enable your performance to be understood.

    Our syllabus forms part of the rules of the Festival. Please ensure you read it fully, paying particular attention to:

    • The requirements for each category (including choice of text or topic)
    • Any maximum / minimum timings:
      • For age groups which say, for example, “Talk for 3 minutes”, the participant should aim to be talking for as close as possible to three minutes, not substantially more or less. So, for example, finishing somewhere between 2 minutes 50 seconds and 3 minutes 10 seconds would be ideal. The judge will remind you nicely to wrap up if you go substantially over time.
      • For age groups which say, for example, “up to 3 minutes”, there is more flexibility. For example, in our Solo Acting category, many very famous and celebrated monologues might not last more than a couple of minutes, even in our 15-18 Years category. In our Your Original Poetry category, it would be entirely appropriate to compose a poem (a sonnet, say), of only 14 lines in the 15-18 Years category. What is important in all these cases is that the text you choose, and the performance you give is long and rich enough to show us your abilities across all of the areas listed in our “What we reward” sections.
    • Any notes regarding what is not allowed,particularly:
      • notes regarding costumes in Solo Acting
      • the notes regarding our ban on AI in our Impromptu category.
    • Individual entrants should enter online at, where you can choose to pay by credit/debit card, PayPal or money transfer
    • Small groups can choose to enter online or by email
    • Schools and larger groups should enter by email at, so we can discuss your needs with you fully and to enable you to provide us with detailed information about your own scheduling and pedagogical needs.

    Getting entrants’ names right

    Whether you’re making an individual entry on the website, or sending us a spreadsheet of a group’s names by email, the names that you provide us with are the ones that will appear on that entrant’s certificates. Please make sure you get them right! So that we address your participants in the right way, we also ask you to provide their preferred pronouns.

    Number of entries per participant

    Each participant may enter as many categories as they like in their given age group, but may only enter each category once.

    Entrants must be within the age bands on the first day of the festival. For example, to qualify as “9-11 Years Old”, you must have your 9th birthday on or before 9 May 2024, and your 12th birthday must be after 9 May 2024.

    If you are feeling any nerves, we can reassure you that we are the friendliest bunch of judges in the world and we are only interested in celebrating your successes and supporting you in confidently presenting or performing online. If you want any last-minute tips, watch the videos and read our top tips on the festival website, or book one of our coaching sessions.

    For some categories, you will need to provide us with further information by Tuesday 30 April 2024. You will be sent full information about how to do this after the main entry deadline on 8 April 2024.

    • Your original poetry: the text of your poem, exactly as it will be performed
    • Shakespeare sonnet: the number of your sonnet, or its location (act, scene and line) in one of Shakespeare’s plays
    • Prose reading and Solo acting: a copy of the full text of the excerpt you will be reading or performing. If you found your excerpt in a book, please also provide the title of the book, and the ISBN number of that book (normally found just above the barcode on the back cover).

    Screen capturing, audio recording, taking photographs, or otherwise recording any part of any performance or part of the festival is not permitted.

    Receiving your Zoom link to join the session

    • Individual bookers will receive your link to join the Zoom session the week before the Festival. Please note that, if you booked on behalf of someone else, the Zoom information will only be sent to the single email provided at the time you booked. It is that person’s responsibility to make sure that the Zoom link is passed on in good time to the individuals entering, and to any audience members. If you have not received you Zoom link by Monday 6 May, please contact us at
    • Group bookers will receive your link at least 48 hours in advance so if you haven’t heard anything, please get in touch at

    Be prepared! Testing beforehand

    Please test out your camera and microphone in advance and be ready to arrive in the Zoom room in good time in case there are any technical problems. Make sure you are in a quiet space or wear headphones if you need to.

    We have all seen babies and cats invade video calls over the last few years: try your best to be somewhere you won’t be interrupted. But, whatever happens, the show will go on!

    Joining your Zoom

    On the day you’ll be in the Zoom room with other people from your category (and perhaps other similar categories and ages) alongside guests who the entrants have invited (each entrant can have two devices join to watch). Please try to enter the waiting room at least 10 minutes in advance of your session. Make sure you’re using the full name given on your entry form. If you cannot join the call or have technical problems on the day, please email Don’t despair if the tech goes wrong on the day – we’ll do our best to see you at another time.

    Splitting our more popular events for individuals

    Our events for individuals appear in our syllabus and on the website as single sessions. However, where particular times are very popular, we will split these events into two or even three different Zoom sessions. If you are performing more than once in an event (in two different categories), we will make sure all your performances take place in one session. However, we cannot guarantee that you will be in the same session as any other participants. So, for example, if you have a brother or sister from a different age group in a session advertised to start at a particular time, they may receive a different Zoom link. If this is the case, it will be made clear to you when you are sent the Zoom link the week before the Festival.

    Making sure you can be seen

    Please orientate your camera in landscape format. You can stand or sit when you perform, but make sure that all of your head, and your hands and upper body, can be seen at all times. The participant should be the only person in view.

    When other people are performing

    When other people are performing, we ask that other people:

    • Keep themselves on mute when it is not their turn
    • Keep their cameras on if they can, so that the person speaking has a sense of their audience (obviously it is crucial to have your camera on when it is your turn!)

    If you’ve booked as part of a group, we’ll liaise with the teacher or group leader about the logistics of your session.

    Order of speaking

    The Festival organisers will decide the order in which entrants will compete, and reserve the right to alter this order (if necessary) at any time, even during the session. However, we will try to accommodate reasonable requests about the order of speaking; please email us about such requests at, or let us know in the ‘notes’ section of your entry form.


    You can have up to two additional devices join to watch you  perform. They should either be in another room, or use headphones so that they can’t be heard on your microphone. If the audience members can be heard in the background of the entrant’s Zoom call, the judges reserve the right to ask them to leave or be silent before continuing.

    Naming yourself if you’re an audience member

    The audience members should join the Zoom using the entrant’s name and their relationship, for example “Christina Rossetti’s mum and dad” or “Chinua Achebe’s teacher”.

    A lot of our Zoom events mix participants from different age groups. Some topics that older participants might choose to speak on might involve violence or more mature subject matter that might be inappropriate for younger viewers. Mentions of violence or traumatic situations can be triggering for other audience members of any age. If this is the case with your oratory, please remember to inform everyone before you start that it might not be suitable for everyone in the room, so they can choose to mute their speakers during your contribution.

    If you can’t attend

    If you can’t attend your session for any reason, we will try to accommodate you in a subsequent session. However, we cannot guarantee to do this, and we cannot refund entry fees for any session you can’t attend.

    If there are problems with your connection

    Entrants should ensure that they have a sufficiently stable internet connection to support their Zoom call. If the connection is unstable during a performance, the judge may ask the entrant to repeat all or part of their performance; this is at the discretion of the judge, and if they think that they have heard and seen enough of the performance to be able to deliver a thorough adjudication, they do not have to give entrants the opportunity to repeat their performance.

    If your connection fails completely

    If your Zoom call or connection fails completely, or prevents them joining the Zoom waiting room before the commencement of the class, we will try and arrange an alternative time to hear you, but if that is not possible then you may have to withdraw from that category. No refund of entry fees will be possible, except where the failure of the call is directly due to the Festival organisers.

    Through our membership of the British & International Federation of Festivals for Music, Dance and Speech, we have an agreement with the Authors’ Licensing and Collecting Society. This means that entrants do not have to seek copyright permission for any for any poetry, prose or solo dramatic items performed to a time limit of 10 minutes.

    • Please announce the title and author before you perform
    • For any works in copyright, you may not change the wording, or the gender of the character.

    Performers and teachers will be delighted to know that their participation in the Festival means that the author of any works which are still in copyright will be directly reimbursed as a consequence of their work being performed at the Festival.


    Of course, taking part is the main thing at the International Oratory Festival. The greatest thrill is in sharing your oratory with other speakers from around the world.

    Everyone who enters gets a beautiful certificate, and a copy of their adjudication sheet with personalised feedback.

    But marks and prizes are also fun, and we have special prizes and certificates for participants who do particularly well!

    Coaches who are judges

    The organiser of the International Oratory Festival is the Noisy Classroom Ltd. The Noisy Classroom delivers teaching and coaching for many schools and individuals in the UK and internationally (including through the coaching sessions offered as part of the Oratory Festival) so it is likely that some participants will have received coaching from one of our team at some point.

    However, no judge of any class will have worked directly with any entrant in the run up to the Festival (between January and May 2024).

    Disagreeing with the judges

    No competitor, teacher or member of the public is allowed to challenge the judges’ comments at any time. The judges’ decisions are final.

    In the unlikely event that you have a valid complaint, verbal complaints will not be considered. All complaints, which must show reasonable grounds for investigation, must be made by email to Such complaints must be sent within 24 hours of the session concerned.

    Mark scheme

    All entries are marked according to the descriptor bands used by all festivals in the British & International Federation of Festivals (BIFF), of which we are a member:

    • Developing (65 – 69)
    • Progressing (70 – 74)
    • Merit (75 – 79)
    • Commended (80 – 84)
    • Honours (85 – 89)
    • Outstanding (90 – 94)
    • Exceptional (95+)

    Prizes & certificates

    We also award the following special certificates:

    • Best in session for each individual event
    • Bronze, Silver and Gold for the best three entrants in each category’s age group
    • Best in Category for the best overall performance across all age groups
    • Exceptional Achievement for Multi-Disciplinary Excellence
    • Best in Festival (who also is awarded the Jubilee Shield)

    Changes to awards

    In the unlikely event that there are insufficient entries in any category, or if the standard of entries in any category is too low, we reserve the right not to award any of the awards mentioned above.


    Please note that any breach or the rules, or any failure to meet the criteria given for each category or age group, can lead to disqualification of the person concerned.


    Please remember that even though this is an online festival, teachers, parents, guardians and carers are responsible for the continuous care and supervision of their own children or pupils.

    It is important that all teachers, parents, and carers take time to read our Children Protection policy and Safer Festival Statement below.

    Equal opportunities

    Oratory can be great whatever your background, accent or nationality.
    We welcome participants from around the globe on equal terms! The International Oratory Festival is committed to an Equal Opportunities Policy:

    • Apart from age-linked categories, there are no restrictions in entry.
    • We also welcome candidates who are neurodiverse or have additional needs; special considerations will be made where appropriate. Individual bookers can let us know more about this (including potential adjustments we might need to make) when you fill in the details form on our website entry system. Group bookers can discuss this with us by email when tailoring your session. All participants can email us at to ensure we get everything right for you.
    • We are always happy to discuss, learn and adapt our practices to enable all children and young people to be able to participate.
    • Participation is open to anyone with a sincere interest in oratory.

    Child Protection Statement

    The International Oratory Festival is a member of The British & International Federation of Festivals for Music, Dance and Speech, and operates at all times in accordance with the following Child Protection Policy.

    The British & International Federation of Festivals for Music, Dance and Speech work with amateur festivals everywhere to help create thousands of educational performance opportunities for children and young people each year. The Federation and our member Festivals are committed to ensuring safe environments for children and young people and believe that it is always unacceptable for a child or young person to experience abuse of any kind.

    We recognise our responsibility to safeguard the welfare of all children and young people, by a commitment to recommend best practice which protects them. This policy applies to our Board of Trustees, paid staff, Adjudicator members, volunteers, students, or anyone working on behalf of the Federation and our member Festivals.

    We recognise that:

    • the welfare of the child/young person is paramount
    • all children, regardless of age, disability, gender, racial heritage, religious belief, sexual orientation, or identity, have the right to equal protection from all types of abuse
    • working in partnership with children, young people, their parents, carers, and other agencies is essential in promoting young people’s welfare

    The purpose of the policy is:

    • to provide protection for the children and young people who participate in our festivals, including the children of festival members
    • to provide staff and volunteers with guidance on procedures they should adopt in the event that they suspect a child or young person may be experiencing, or be at risk of, harm

    We will seek to safeguard children and young people by:

    • valuing them, listening to, and respecting them
    • adopting child protection guidelines through procedures and safe working practice for staff and volunteers
    • recruiting staff and volunteers safely, ensuring all necessary checks are made
    • sharing information about child protection and safe working practice with children, parents, staff and volunteers
    • sharing information about concerns with agencies who need to know, and involving parents and children appropriately
    • providing effective management for staff and volunteers through supervision, support and training

    The Federation will review this policy each year in November in line with Safe Network Guidance or sooner in light of any changes in legislation or guidance. All changes will be communicated to our member Festivals in time for the start of the new Festival year.


    Safer Festival Statement

    The British & International Federation of Festivals for Music, Dance and Speech and its member Festivals use the following policies and procedures to provide Safer Festivals for children and young people.

    1. A single, definitive Child Protection Policy adopted by all Federation Festivals.
    2. Best practice advice in the form of Safe Working Practice and Child Protection leaflets, support and training for all Federation Festival staff and volunteers reporting procedures for anyone with a concern about a child.
    3. Appropriate recruitment and induction procedures followed for all new staff and volunteers responsible for providing safe environments for the children/young people attending/performing at our Festivals.
    4. One or more designated Festival Safeguarding Officers (FSO) appointed for each Federation Festival.
    5. For the duration of a Festival all teachers/parents/guardians/carers are responsible for the continuous care and supervision of their own children/pupils. If they are unable to attend personally, they must delegate their responsibilities to an identified adult and ensure that their children/pupils are aware of the identity and name of the person responsible for their care.
    6. No unauthorised photography, screenshots, or video recording of children and young people is allowed at our festival.
    7. The Festival’s Child Protection Policy and Safer Festivals Statement will be published explicitly in the Syllabus, Programme and on the festival website. Each teacher, parent, guardian and carer must read, understand and accept this information in order to give consent for their children/pupils to enter the festival by completing the relevant part of the online entry forms. Without consent the entry to the festival cannot be accepted.

    The International Oratory Festival has completed the implementation of BIFF’s new approach to safeguarding. Their Child Protection Policy and Safeguarding Statement meet the recommendations of BIFF and are renewed annually.

    Privacy Policy

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