Cambridge & Oxford Union Debating Contests

More Debating Competitions for High School Students

Date published: Thu 8 Feb 2018   Author: HLH/ADF   Category: Publicity   Share: Share on facebookShare on TwitterShare on MySpaceShare by Email


January has been an incredibly busy month for TBSHS debaters. On a wet Saturday morning, three teams of intrepid speakers met at the Cambridge Union Building for a very full day, consisting of four rounds of debating, each with only 15 minutes time to prepare. In the first debate, veteran speaker Charles Lockie (Year 13) and debutant Alex Suspiro (Year 12) were drawn to speak in the same room as Year 13 students James Knudsen (another first-timer) and Jacob Gazey (in only his second competition) on the motion “Assuming the Technology Exists, This House Would Remove the Ability to Feel Fear from Soldiers”. The two TBSHS teams were placed first and second respectively, ahead of Oundle and another school. Meanwhile in another room Christian Stimpson (Year 11) and Harry Rogers (Year 12) also won their debate, taking the scalps of, among others, an Uppingham School team.  The second motion was “This House Believes the State should Prioritise Funding of Female-Only Technology Companies”. In a close debate with some polished opponents, Harry & Christian gained a creditable third place. Jacob & James, opposing the motion, achieved a brilliant first place at the expense of Bedford Modern School, while Adam & Charles were beaten by one of the best teams of the day, but finished a good second, ahead of the Perse School.

Good results before lunch mean that a team competes against other high-scoring teams in the afternoon, which therefore proved more demanding going for our teams, despite their consumption of the traditional mini-muffins. Charles and Alex, speaking second for the motion “This House Would Abolish Plea Bargains” were, in my opinion, rather unlucky to be placed fourth, while Jacob & James gained a well-deserved second place and Christian & Harry salvaged another third. However they bounced back with an unexpected victory over three teams from independent schools in the last round, despite having to tackle the tricky task of proposing that “This House Would Ban All Political Parties and Require All Politicians to Seek Election as Independent Candidates”. Our other two teams, facing tough opposition, both achieved third places.

Inexplicably, the organisers have still to publish the final results table, but I would estimate that James & Jacob finished in the top 10 of the 41 teams, drawn from all over East Anglia and the East Midlands, with Christian & Harry in a similar position, and Alex & Charles in around 20th place. I was very pleased with these results and the standards set by all our teams, who were very appreciative of the supportive presence of TBSHS governor Sally Hart.

After school three days later six different students climbed aboard a school minibus piloted by Mr Patterson and set off  for CATS College, a boarding school in Cambridge, to take part in the regional round of the Oxford Union competition. Once again the 44 teams present came from all over Eastern England, but one of the youngest must have been our Year 9 pairing of Finn Lihoreau & Elliot Wood, supported by fellow student Finn Aylott. In their first debating competition they appeared completely unafraid of more experienced opponents up to four years older than them and more than held their own when I watched them tackle the motion “This House Would Ban Meat” with well structured, confident speeches. Also representing the school were the established team of James Gor & Scott Lockie (Year 11) and Year 12 students Yvette Agyiri-Marti (another first-time competitor) & George Hobart. In the two rounds of debating (the second motion was “This House Would Ban Juries”) all our teams performed well, but none of them did quite enough to attain the top eight place needed to progress to Finals Day.

 Not many schools have the depth of debating talent and enthusiasm to be represented so well by 12 different students in these demanding events. Congratulations to all our speakers and many thanks to teachers Ms Davies & Mr Patterson who gave up their time to provide support and transport for them.

A.D. Fraser