Debating Update - Kings College London

TBSHS was the only Hertfordshire school to take part.

Date published: Thu 14 Feb 2019   Author: HLH/ADF   Category: News   Share: Share on facebookShare on TwitterShare on MySpaceShare by Email



The first weekend in February saw another early start for the school’s intrepid debaters, meeting at King’s College London at 8:20 am. This was our first appearance in this particular competition which, like many others, featured few teams from the state sector and TBSHS was also the only Hertfordshire school of any kind represented.

Undaunted, our three teams steamed into the first debate “This House Would Impose Minimum Quotas For the Number of Women in STEM Degrees at University” with enthusiasm. Alfie Aylett (who had only represented the school once before, two years ago) and George Hobart  faced a very difficult task, opening the case against the motion after extremely well-constructed, cogent speeches from an experienced King’s College Canterbury team. Despite arguing that university places should be awarded on merit, they were only able to finish fourth in their room.

However, there was better news from our other teams. Savi Hipkins, who only started debating in September, and Boyd Dunster, closing the case for the motion, won their debate against three independent school teams, while Charlotte Griffiths (in her first debating competition) and Scott Lockie were awarded third place after opening their debate.

Mid-morning mini-muffins fuelled further success in the second debate. Opening the Proposition for the motion “This House Would Allow Employees to Sacrifice Worker Benefits for Increased Pay”, Boyd argued persuasively that this measure was a matter of freedom of choice and would give individuals greater control over their working lives, without affecting overall safety standards, which would need to be maintained because not every worker would opt into it. Savi  countered much of the Opposition’s case effectively, accusing them of misinformation, and summarised the team’s case well. In a very close finish, their efforts were rewarded with another first place, a result which handed a team from Eton their only defeat of the day. Meanwhile George & Alfie improved on their first round with a third-place finish, a result matched by Scott & Charlotte.

After a short lunch break I watched the latter open the Opposition to the motion “This House Would Ban All Political Parties and Make All Candidates Run as Independents”. Charlotte , who had clearly taken note of the judges’ feedback from earlier rounds, spoke with pleasing confidence, explaining that passing the motion would drastically lower the calibre of candidates, as anyone could stand for election. Scott tore into the Proposition’s arguments, arguing that they would cause the government of the country to descend into chaos and diminish Britain’s standing in the world and, in this context, slipping in the day’s first reference to BREXIT. The TBSHS team gained a narrow victory in this debate. Alfie & George achieved another third place, despite feeling that they had spoken much better, while Savi & Boyd’s earlier victories placed them in a room with other hitherto undefeated teams and they had to be content with fourth place.

And so to the final round, where an administrative error meant that a rather unwieldy substitute motion had to be used. Proposing “Assuming a Moderate Candidate e.g. Joe Biden Wins the Democratic Primary, This House Believes That this Candidate Should Choose a Republican as Vice-Presidential Running Mate”, George produced a clearly set out speech, arguing that the successful Republican should similarly choose a Democrat and that these actions would serve to bring the American electorate together and exclude extremist policies. Alfie, speaking more confidently than earlier in the day, backed him up well, explaining how the motion would help to moderate a President’s policies and attacking the Opposition’s arguments. They were only given another third place, although in my opinion they deserved better. Boyd & Savi bounced back with a second place, just behind another Eton team, but Scott & Charlotte came down to earth with a bump, being placed fourth in their room.

In the final standings, Savi & Boyd finished in an extremely creditable 14th place out of 60 teams (the best result in recent years for a TBSHS team in this sort of competition), with Charlotte & Scott in 42nd place and Alfie & George not far behind them.

All in all, this was a very enjoyable event, in which our students enhanced the school’s competitive reputation and were excellent company throughout a gruelling day’s debating.