SIX teams from four local schools participated in this year’s Rotary Club public speaking competition in which Sherborne Girls' Middle Fifth pupil, Charlotte Robson, won the prize for the best individual performer.

Charlotte worked with her team, Pip Williams and Iram Hasan to perform a professional and thought provoking speech about high heels being banned from the workplace.

Charlotte said: "I wasn't feeling particularly nervous about the event, I knew all the words off by heart, so I didn't have to worry about having prompt cards which made my presentation more professional.

"Overall, we all enjoyed the experience greatly as we had an excellent audience and we all performed to the best of our abilities.

"The judges took a longer time than expected to decide on a winner, which they put down to the high quality of our speaking and quality of teamwork."

Below is a copy of Charlotte's speech.

“High heels are a male invention designed to make a woman’s butt look smaller and to make it harder for them to run away.”

How many of you have ever tried running away in high heels? This may sound like a stupid question to us, but for many working women in a multitude of jobs today, this is actually a real issue. From air-hostesses to cabin crew, to shop assistants and even teachers, many women choose high heels as their preferred working footwear.

There have been numerous claims that these shoes are bad for your health and many are proved to be true. But should these shoes be banned from the workplace altogether?

There was an article posted in The Times newspaper recently about a meeting that took place between the Trade Unions Committee (or TUC) and members of the Government to discuss whether high heels should be banned in certain professions.

Some of these include air hostesses, cabin crew, and people whose jobs involve hazardous equipment, such as ladders. Lorraine Jones of the Society of Chiropodists and Podiatrists also played her part in the debate by talking about the various health issues that high heels can cause.

Bunions, corns, knee damage and acute pain in the lower back can all be results of wearing heels for too long. Those kitten heels don’t seem quite so sexy now do they?

But, I can hear some of you thinking; high heels are hardly dangerous are they? It’s not as if they could actually cause injury, they’re only shoes after all.

Actually, you could be wrong there.

I’m sure we’ve all heard the in-flight safety demonstrations done by air hostesses, and probably all know that, and I quote, “all high heeled shoes must be removed before exiting the aircraft.”

This probably isn’t just an excuse to get you to part with your cutest pair of heels.

Personally, I dread to think what a pair of particularly pointy stilettos could do to an inflatable plastic raft.

Well then, why do air hostesses wear high heels? Some have claimed that they are forced to by their employers.

When the question was posed to Virgin Airlines, they denied the claims, saying that often the hostesses would wear high heels to the plane and then change into flat shoes once they were on board. None the less, the Society of Chiropodists and Podiatrists still see these allegations as a threat to the women’s health, claiming that if they cannot wear sensible shoes, then what is the point of them wearing shoes to work at all?

They say that it is just another pointless rule that will not only affect the women’s long-term health, but has the potential to lead to injury in the workplace.

On the other hand, there are some people who think that the added height provided by heels can improve confidence.

Nadine Dorries, an MP from the Conservative Party who stands at only 5ft 3, claimed that she “needs to be able to stand up to her male colleuges.”

Perhaps that’s the reason our sixth form are so fond of those pointy-toed monstrosities?

And what about the women themselves? Shouldn’t they have the choice about what shoes they wear to work?

Is this an attempt to lower women’s social status in the workplace, to take away their options and to subject them to the rules laid down by their male co-workers?

Is this a direct assault on women’s rights as a whole?

Why aren’t there any of these sorts of campaigns against what men wear in the workplace? Have we ever heard of a movement against men wearing ties or jackets because of the health risks they pose?

I didn’t think so.

And now, just to add insult to injury, I’d like to point out that at one stage in history, high heels were considered to be men’s footwear!

Between the periods of 400 and 1500 AD, high class men would wear tall knee-high boots. Complete with two to three inch heels! Usually worn with tight leggings, known as hose, these “medieval heels” were considered to be the very “height” of fashion.

The church however, which at that time could be a bit of a killjoy when it came to fashion, denounced these shoes as “satanic” and “devilish” and called for them to be outlawed!

The men, typically, ignored these cries. They weren’t giving up their favourite fashion statement, whatever the church said.

Now, where have we heard that before?

But, if you think about it, aren’t all these questions just the result of paranoia over women’s rights?

There was never meant to be a debate over women’s rights in the workplace. The anti-heels party feels that they are campaigning to give women a chance to free themselves from the potentially damaging obligations of high heels.

Some people have misunderstood their intentions as a direct assault over whether women should have any choice on what they wear. Particularly seeing as the majority of the movement are men.

So, all in all, the whole issue seems to have been blown out of proportion, don’t you think?

What started out as a discussion about whether heels are a danger in the workplace has become a heated debate over the oppression of women’s rights.

Perhaps all we need is a comfortable compromise that will satisfy both parties. Let’s give women the chance to decide if they wear heels or not. By all means inform them of the risks, but we shouldn’t force the ban. Whether women decide to heed the advice is up to them.

That seems to cut the issue down to size now doesn’t it?