Debating News - Oxford Union and SOAS Competitions

TBSHS Teams take on two more challenges

Date published: Mon 4 Feb 2019   Author: HLH/ADF   Category: News   Share: Share on facebookShare on TwitterShare on MySpaceShare by Email

January ended with more TBSHS taking part in two debating competitions run by universities under the British Parliamentary format. On the 24th, three teams climbed aboard the school minibus (heroically piloted through patches of thick fog by Mr Patterson) to travel to Bedford School for the East of England qualifying round of the Oxford Union Schools’ Competition. Our teams were Boyd Dunster (Year 12) & Savi Hipkins (Year 13), Christian Stimpson (Year 12) & Harry Rogers (Year 13) and Nabil Shah & Will Worthy (both Year 10) – with Savi, Nabil and Will all making their inter-school debating debuts.

There were 38 teams from East Anglia and the East Midlands, all of whom had to debate two motions, “This House Would Ban Single Sex Schools” and “This House Would Not Negotiate with Terrorists”. As usual, non-selective state schools were in a minority, but TBSHS speakers certainly held their own. In the debates that I observed they demonstrated an excellent grasp of the roles of various speakers in the debate and engaged spiritedly with their opponents’ arguments, as well as putting forward some original and well-considered points of their own.








Unfortunately, none of our teams was placed in the top four (positions below this are not disclosed), the requirement to go through to Finals Day. However, they all gave a good account of themselves and were very impressive ambassadors for the school.

A few days later three more TBSHS teams gave up the whole of their Sunday to compete against 49 other teams at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London over four gruelling rounds of debating. In the first round they all found themselves speaking for the motion that “This House Would Criminalise the Payment of Ransoms”. James Gor & Christian Stimpson (both Year 12), opening their debate, gained a creditable third place, not far behind a team from Eton and ahead of one representing a selective sixth form college. Joe Eringa & Olivia Duckmanworth (both Year 13), and Teale Cunningham (Year 13) & Xander West (Year 12) had to be content with 4th places after closing the case for the motion. Having watched the latter pair, I felt that they were unlucky not to have achieved a higher placing. Olivia & Joe found proposing the second motion, “This House Supports Feminist Campaigns That Celebrate the Contribution of Men”, more to their liking, making some strong points, especially about changing the public perception of feminists. They were rewarded by being placed second to a very strong team from St Paul’s Girls, beating two other independent school teams. Unfortunately, our other two pairs had a tough time in the ‘bottom half’ of their debates.

However the lunch break proved something of a turning point in our results. Xander & Teale , opening the Opposition to “This House Believes that Developing Countries Should Require All University Graduates to Work in Their Country of Origin for a Fixed Period of Time”, gained a pleasing victory over Dulwich College and a second place. Christian & James also put up a strong performance, with James decrying the motion as ‘forced labour’ and raising the case of refugees. Christian produced a very well-structured speech in which he picked off each of his opponents one by one and summarised the Opposition case. They were given a close second place, but I thought that they deserved an even better result.

After a disappointing placing in the third round, Joe & Olivia found themselves in the same room as Teale & Xander for the final debate, “This House Would Prevent Private Ownership of Art Deemed to be Culturally or Historically Significant”. These TBSHS teams closed the debate against and for the motion respectively and gained second and third places, while James & Christian also finished third in their room.

The standard of debating at SOAS was very high, and two of our students (Olivia and Xander) were appearing in their first-ever interschool competition. However, all the TBSHS speakers demonstrated the true Black and Gold spirit and their heads never dropped all day. Christian (an eleventh-hour replacement for an unwell speaker) and James were our highest-placed team (40th equal) and with better fortune they could easily have finished up to 10 places higher. At 47th, James was the highest-placed TBSHS representative in the individual standings and Olivia was 28th of the 45 ‘novice speakers’ (those in their first calendar year of competition).

Congratulations and many thanks to all our speakers in these two competitions. They spoke with logic, determination and good humour and were excellent company throughout. I am sure that they will also have learned much from the feedback given by the judges at the end of each debate