End of Year Two and a Debating Competition
The Debate-Ed Programme held its second annual debating competition on Saturday 11 March 2017 with support from Lanyon Bowdler, Shrewsbury Business Chamber and Pure Telecom. This was the conclusion of a year working with some schools as part of the core Debate-Ed program.
The Core Programme
The schools involved were Meole Brace school, Prestfelde school and the Priory School. Students from Shrewsbury Sixth Form College were trained to deliver fun and engaging workshops to students. The students at Priory School got a crash course in debating, while the students at the other schools had an intensive 10 workshops exploring different topics and helping them to develop their analytical skills and their presentation skills over a number of sessions.
In total, 32 students from Prestfelde school, 120 students from Priory School and 50 students at Meole Brace School took part in the programme this year. We also had eight students from Shrewsbury Sixth form College engaging in the scheme along with an alumni mentor from Shrewsbury Sixth Form College who acted as a Senior Mentor.
97% of the students said that they had enjoyed debating in their workshops. A number of the students commented on how fun they had found it to debate views with other people and to learn about public speaking and the wider world. Others commented on how good the mentors were and the efforts that the mentors had put into making their sessions fun and engaging. When asked if they would like to do debating again, 80% of students said that they would like to, with one student stating that they ‘had never been interested in debating, but now find it more fun and interesting’. This is really encouraging as debating is a great way for students to develop confidence and persuasive skills which will help them both throughout their academic careers and in the workplace.
In total there were 40 students at the competition from Wrekin College, Moreton School, Meole Brace School and press felt school. It was a really great day with the judging panel consisting of Amanda Moorghan from the English Speaking Union, Judge Tindal, a local Judge, the Mayor of Shrewsbury and representatives from Greenhous and Lanyon Bowdler. We were also joined by the mentors from Shrewsbury Sixth Form College who got into the swing of things by both debating and judging throughout the day.
The competition was great fun with a variety of topics being debated. The first topic the students tackled was whether weight loss surgery, such as a gastric band, should be paid for on the NHS. A number of judges commented on how maturely and sensibly students dealt with this topic and the issues arising from it. We then moved on to more topical issues which in this case was whether or not Donald Trump should visit the UK. Students were really enthusiastic about this topic and came up with a variety of reasons why they felt he should or shouldn't be able to visit the UK. They were able to consider the wider implications of denying him a visit and how this might affect our economy and standing in the world.
The final topic for all the students to debate was whether or not super heroes were good role models. They came up was really creative and interesting points, with some arguing that they are good role models as in essence a superhero's job is not that different to that of a fireman or police man – they simply use their gifts to help people. They also commented on the importance of having a role model and how this can inspire children to challenge themselves and develop. Other students argued that super heroes are poor role models as most of them are vigilantes of some sort and pay little to no regard to due process and law and order.
After these three lively debates, the finalists were chosen and went on to debate whether a second referendum should be held before we exit the EU. Teams from Meole Brace School and Moreton Hall made it into the final. The ultimate winners of the debate were Barney Cansdale and Louis Morris from Meole Brace School, who impressively won all of their rounds during the competition.
Unfortunately, I had my own Oscars moment as due to a data input error a team from Meole Brace, comprising of Finn Pearson and Eli Jones, was denied a place in the final. They had a public apology on the day once the error was brought to my attention, and have received their own finalist certificates and prizes.
The Debate-Ed programme will now officially draw to a close for its second year. However we will shortly be looking to recruit additional mentors from Shropshire colleges to take part in Debate-Ed Year Three.