Year 9 Debaters' Double Success in ICYD

Two TBSHS Teams qualify for the International Final at the Oxford Union

Date published: Mon 26 Mar 2018   Author: HLH/ADF   Category: News   Share: Share on facebookShare on TwitterShare on MySpaceShare by Email



On the last weekend of term, two teams of TBSHS Year 9 debaters, Tom Harding & Elliot Wood (Team HW) and Finn Aylott & Finn Lihoreau (Team AL), accompanied by Ms Davies and Mr Fraser gathered at school at 7:00 a.m. for the drive to Whitgift School in Croydon. After a surprisingly easy journey round the M25, we arrived in good time to face 38 other teams representing 16 schools from all over the South East of England for a regional round of the International Competition for Young Debaters. This annual competition is open to students from Years 7 to 10, but the first motion “This House Would Introduce a 100% Inheritance Tax” focussed on a topic unfamiliar to many speakers of this age. Both our teams had the difficult task of supporting this motion and Team HW were particularly unlucky to be drawn in the same room as two of the strongest teams present. In spite of delivering a pair of good speeches they were awarded fourth place, while Team AL fared a little better, gaining third place in their room.

However, after tucking into supplies of mini-muffins, our teams’ fortunes began to look up. Team AL had to close the case against the motion, “This House Would Give Equal TV Coverage and Funding to Men’s and Women’s Sporting Events”. Finn Aylott’s well-structured speech contained plenty of good new points and he was praised by the (female) judge for being the first speaker in the all-male debate to be honest enough to say that men are generally stronger and faster than women. Finn Lihoreau, summarising, made an excellent job of attacking the arguments made for the motion and subtly undermining the other team on his own side of the debate! A well-deserved second place was their reward. Meanwhile Tom and Elliot, speaking as the second team for the motion, both gave their best performances of the day, to win first place ahead of teams from Haberdashers (Elstree) and Harlow’s Burnt Mill School.

The final motion, which I felt would have been more suitable for the first debate, covered more familiar territory. Team HW opened the Proposition of “This House Would Lower the Voting Age to 16”, with Elliot setting out the parameters of the debate very clearly and reminding us that 16-year-olds, who can marry and be in full -time employment might still have to wait until the age of 20 before voting in a general election. Tom countered several of the Opposition’s arguments effectively before producing his trump card – the successful introduction of voting at 16 in the Scottish devolution referendum, a point for which his opponents had no answer. The result was a narrow win for TBSHS over three independent schools. The two Finns, closing the case for the motion, laid into their opponents, including a team from my old school in Ipswich, with relish and were clear winners in their room.

These performances meant that both our teams had scored six points out of a possible nine, which gave them a good chance of being in the top eleven teams, who would qualify for the International Final next term. The overall results put TBSHS in 9th and 10th places, so for the first time ever we will have two teams at the Oxford Union. Whitgift is a rather different establishment from TBSHS, so we took a little time to admire the peacocks roaming around the school grounds and visit the school’s flamingos and wallabies (we have the photos to prove it!) in their enclosure before setting off for home.


Picture shows (left to right) Finn  Lihoreau, Tom Harding, Elliot Wood, Finn Aylott


Our speakers deserve huge congratulations for their achievements, which are even more impressive when you consider that two of them were debating for the school for the first time and the other two had only done so once before. In addition, they had all been involved with Showcase for the previous two nights. They were a great credit to the school and their families all day and this was a marvellous way to round off an outstanding term of debating.


Mr A.D.Fraser