Debating - Latest Competition News

ESU Schools’ Mace Eastern Region Final plus UCL Schools' Debating Competition

Date published: Tue 13 Mar 2018   Author: HLH/ADF   Category: Publicity   Share: Share on facebookShare on TwitterShare on MySpaceShare by Email


After snow and ice (even worse in Suffolk & Norfolk than in Hertfordshire) had caused a postponement, our speakers Charles Lockie & Tiegan Meadows, together with supporters Sara Dalzell & Millie Mitchell travelled to the Royal Hospital School Holbrook for the Eastern Region final of the English Speaking Unions prestigious competition (our fourth consecutive appearance at this stage).

In the first debate of the afternoon, Westcliff High Schools for Boys (Essex) proposed the motion that “This House believes that it is legitimate for environmental groups to use the destruction of property to further their aims”, opposed by RHS Holbrook (Suffolk). This was a high-quality debate, with very little to choose between two accomplished teams, both of whom spoke confidently and knowledgeably about the motion and countered each other’s arguments effectively.

Then it was the turn of TBSHS to oppose the motion “This House believes that the England football team should boycott the Russia 2018 World Cup” against Langley School (Norfolk).  Our opponents’ first speaker spoke at length about Russia’s state-sponsored doping of athletes and atrocities committed in the Crimea and against the Ukraine, asserting that for England to take part in the World Cup would be an act of cowardice in not standing up to bullies. In response, Charles, quoting a recent House of Commons report, argued authoritatively that at present it is better to avoid negative Russian reactions by using the World Cup to keep channels of communication open. He then went on to show clearly why the proposed boycott would be completely ineffective, explaining the differences between Russia now and South Africa in the apartheid era, and would merely serve to isolate the UK at a time when we need to rebuild international ties. Langley’s second speaker reinforced her partner’s points and brought our attention to Russia’s treatment of the LBTQ community and ethnic minorities. In a well-paced speech, Tiegan argued that the best answer to such discrimination would be to send a team that represents racial diversity to the World Cup. She also highlighted the potential detrimental effects on the careers of English footballers, especially members of our the successful age group sides and the danger of England being excluded in 2022 if the boycott went ahead. In addition Tiegan pointed out that the proposed boycott would be inconsistent with the approach of English teams in other sports to events in Russia.

While we waited for the judges’ verdict, general opinion was that we had been the stronger team in our debate, but the choice of the overall winners would prove to be a very close call. In the end, the Chair Judge, who is the ESU’s Competitions Officer, announced that this was indeed the case, but RHS Holbrook had retained the title that they won last year, with Westcliff in second place. She praised Charles & Tiegan for their confident, well-informed approach to the debate and the effectiveness of their engagement with, and the rebuttal of,  their opponents’ arguments.

Retired teacher and Team Coach Tony Fraser commented, “This was, by some distance, our team’s best performance in this year’s competition that places us, once again, among the top 40 schools in the country. Despite a lot of other commitments, Tiegan & Charles prepared very thoroughly for this debate and the manner in which they competed did themselves and the school proud. Many thanks too to Millie & Sara, the only supporters from the three visiting schools. Like our team they were excellent ambassadors for TBSHS, contributing to the friendly atmosphere of the day. Congratulations to all concerned!”



The fourth university-based debating competition of this term saw an early morning start for four TBSHS debaters, three from the Sixth Form and one from Year 11. By 9:00 am, we had all arrived at the Institute of Education, which is now part of University College London. In the first debate, speaking for the motion, “This House Would Privatise the Pharmaceutical Industry”, Charles Lockie & Teale Cunningham (the latter making his first representative appearance for the school) made a great start to the day, gaining first place thanks to some good original arguments from Teale and Charles’s impressive summary speech.  Meanwhile Jacob Gazey & Boyd Dunster, also proposing, were given a third place but were delighted to report that they had beaten a team from Eton. The teams then moved onto debate “This House Believes That It Is Morally Justified For Citizens Of Corrupt Regimes To Evade Taxes”. Boyd & Jacob had a tricky task, speaking second for the motion after the first team produced a somewhat dubious definition of ‘corrupt’, but they managed another third place. Teale & Charles had to speak last against some very strong teams and were placed fourth.

Refreshed by lunch, our teams’ results improved in the third debate “This House Prefers a World In which News Sources Have an Explicit Ideological Agenda Rather Than an Industry Standard of Neutrality”. Charles &  Teale opened their debate and were only beaten by a polished performance from a Westminster school team that ended the day as the highest-placed novices’ team. In their room Jacob & Boyd stormed to a first-place finish, defeating, amongst others, a Whitgift School pair. These results put our teams level on 5 points out of a possible 9, giving them outside chances of reaching the semi-finals, but also the prospects of tough opponents in their fourth debate. The motion focussed on a proposal to force private schools to award 50% of their places, for no fees, to students from underprivileged families. Boyd argued passionately that society has a moral duty to implement this measure and Jacob backed him up with a well-structured speech in which he attacked several of his opponents’ arguments very effectively. This debate featured the best standard of speaking I saw all day, so our team’s second place was a real achievement. Teale and Charles felt that they had also spoken well, but had to be satisfied with a third place against some pairs who finished high in the eventual results. Charles was placed 33rd equal in the individual rankings of 104 speakers, with Boyd and Jacob very close behind in 36th equal and 40th equal respectively and Teale 78th.

Retired teacher Tony Fraser said  “These are very pleasing results from a high-quality competition that included a lot of the ‘big names’ of schools debating, such as Dulwich and Eton. We have not been notified of team placings, but I would estimate that Jacob and Boyd finished around 20th of the 52 teams, with Charles & Teale in about 26th place. Our speakers performed with cheerful determination all day and deserve both congratulations and thanks for their efforts”.