TBSHS Speakers at ICYD Finals Day

James Gor & Scott Lockie (Year 10) take on 47 other teams in Debating Competition

Date published: Wed 17 May 2017   Author: HLH/ADF   Category: General   Share: Share on facebookShare on TwitterShare on MySpaceShare by Email


The International Competition for Young Debaters, held this year at the Cambridge Union, is probably the leading event for speakers aged 15 and under. James Gor & Scott Lockie (Year 10) joined 47 other teams, including some from Canada, Greece, India & Ireland for a challenging day of debating, where participants have only 15 minutes to prepare speeches.

In the first round, Scott and James were given the difficult task of opening the Opposition case against the motion “This House Would Ban Any Treatment, Service Or Ritual From Claiming a Physical Healing Effect Until It Is Tested and Proved To Be More Effective Than a Placebo, By a National Regulator”. Although they offered some good arguments, a lack of structure reduced the effectiveness of our team’s speeches and they were placed fourth behind teams from Scotland, Greece and Canada. The second round saw a more organised and focussed performance from TBSHS, speaking first for the motion “This House Supports Hacking As a Form Of Social Protest”. James laid out a good case for the use of hacking against corrupt organisations, making a clear distinction between social protest and theft/physical damage. Scott followed this up with some powerful attacks on the case made by a team from Brighton College and rounded off the team’s case with a well judged summary. A strong team from Morrison’s Academy (Scotland) won, with our team in second place, just ahead of Brighton College, but well clear of a team from Athens.


After lunch our team was drawn to speak in the second half of each of the two remaining debates (often more difficult than opening for either side, especially there are few obvious arguments for younger students). In the first of these, where the three other teams were all from the English independent sector, they were supporting the motion “This House Would Prefer a World Without Religious Beliefs”. Speaking third for the motion, Scott made a good point about conflicts between science and some religious beliefs, but unfortunately this came too near the end of his speech to achieve its full impact. In his summary speech James dismantled one or two of the points made by the Opposition but let them get away with some unjustified and sweeping generalisations. Nevertheless, I felt that we deserved better than another fourth place, a view shared by a parent of the team placed second, who thought we had beaten them! Licking their wounds, TBSHS tackled “This House Would Not Give Development Aid To Heavily Corrupt Regimes”, speaking second against the motion. This was another debate where not many distinct arguments could be made. However, Scott made a good point about making sure that organisations like the UN could be used to help deliver the aid to the people, not the regimes and James was able to show how the Opening Opposition (St Conleth’s from Ireland) had countered the points made by Opening Government (RGS Worcester). Both our speakers also met my personal challenge to them by managing to slip the ‘strong and stable leadership’ cliché into their speeches and Scott even managed to include ‘coalition of chaos’ as well! Third place in this debate ahead of local rivals from KEVIS from Bury St Edmunds was, I felt, reasonable reward for their efforts.


At the time of writing we still do not know the team’s final placing, but Scott and James deserve congratulations for just reaching the final stage of this competition. Although they never found themselves on the easier side of any motion on the day they spoke with great fluency and spirit, showing an admirable willingness to challenge opponents and engage with their arguments.  If they can learn to look more at the ‘bigger picture’, prioritise their arguments and, above all, bring more structure to their speeches, they could have a very bright future in debating.  Many thanks to them for their efforts, as well as to their parents, who came along to support them, along with teachers Miss Torry and Mr Rocca.