TBSHS DEBATERS SPEAK AT THE OXFORD UNION
Charles Lockie and Tiegan Meadows, both in Year 12, represented the school at Finals Day of the Oxford University Schools’ Debating Competition. As both students acknowledge, neither of them is a morning person, so their first challenge was to register at 8:00 am in the Union building, an achievement celebrated with coffee and plenty of croissants & cakes. The roll call of 100 teams revealed that we were one of only about a dozen non-selective British states schools who had progressed to this stage, the vast majority of our opponents being drawn from the independent sector, including Eton, St Paul’s, Winchester, Charterhouse and Manchester Grammar school, and a few from as far afield as Hong Kong and Canada.
In the first round, Tiegan and Charles were drawn to speak in the historic Union Chamber, opening the Proposition of the motion “This House Would Criminalise the Payment of Ransoms”. Despite producing confident well-structured speeches, TBSHS were placed fourth (it transpired that the other 3 teams in this debate would all finish in the top 40). This meant that in the second round we would be speaking against other teams who had been beaten in the first round, but once again we were unlucky with the draw and our opponents included Dulwich College, one of the strongest debating schools in the country. The motion was “This House Would Abolish Marriage as a State Institution” and we had to close the case for the Proposition. Again both our speakers performed well, with Tiegan managing to introduce some interesting new arguments and Charles summarising the Proposition case powerfully. They perhaps deserved a bit more than the third place they were awarded.
Fortified by a hurried lunch, the team set off for the Morris Room (decorated with William Morris wallpaper) for what proved to be their toughest task of the day. They had to oppose the motion that “This House Believes That it is Legitimate for States to Refuse Admission of Refugees Who Oppose Said States’ Core Values”, again closing the case. Despite explaining that migrants rather than refugees are responsible for radicalisation and hate crimes and defending freedom of speech, it was another rather unfortunate fourth place. Undaunted by this setback, Charles and Tiegan, remembering the date, persuaded the other 3 teams to join them in a chorus of “Happy Birthday To You” for me!
Birthday mini-muffins having been consumed, it was time for the team’s final debate, once again Closing Opposition for “This House Believes That Developing Nations Should Ban Foreign Ownership of Major Companies”. This time Charles was our first speaker and he managed to explain how investment from the developed world was often needed to kickstart businesses that could later pass into native ownership. He also pointed out the importance of micro economies to support major companies. Summing up, Tiegan passionately advocated that “a job is better than no job” and attacked the Proposition’s arguments that major companies bring more corruption and exploitation to developed countries. At last the team’s efforts were properly rewarded with a first place.
Retired teacher Tony Fraser said “This was an unusual way to spend my birthday, but I really enjoyed it. Overall TBSHS finished in 83rd place, but that does not reflect the quality of their performance. Both Charles and Tiegan debated better than I had seen them do before but just got none of the breaks. However they never allowed their enthusiasm and determination to waver and I was particularly impressed by the way that they took on board advice from adjudicators and applied it to subsequent debates. They were superb company all day and a great credit to their families and to the school. Special thanks must go to Mrs Lockie for transporting the team and for arranging our overnight accommodation”