TBSHS Students demonstrate Debating to Primary Schools

Year 12 TBSHS students teach the art of debating to primary school pupils

Date published: Fri 21 Jun 2019   Author: HLH/ADF   Category: News   Share: Share on facebookShare on TwitterShare on MySpaceShare by Email



The first fortnight in June saw Year 12 TBSHS students visiting three local primary schools during their enrichment sessions on Wednesday afternoons, in order to demonstrate the art of debating. On the first of these, both Thorley Hill and Hillmead had chosen the motion “This House Would Ban the Sale of Fizzy Drinks to Children”.

I chaired the debate at Hillmead, where Ruby Owen & Xander West proposed the motion, with Boyd Dunster & Adam Bell forming the Opposition and two Hillmead students acting as timekeepers.

Ruby made good use of statistics derived from laboratory experiments on mice to draw attention to the dangers of consuming too much sugar and Xander explained that the acids in carbonated drinks are very harmful to children’s teeth. In a clever and humorous response, Boyd argued that it was better to educate children to behave responsibly and Adam entertained the audience with some personal anecdotes about his previous consumption of energy drinks. In the floor debate, the speakers had to answer some searching questions, many of them focussing on the treatment of laboratory animals, and the motion was comfortably defeated.

A similar result occurred at Thorley Hill, where Scott Lockie & Charlotte Griffiths formed the Proposition, against Christian Stimpson & Ollie Weight, with Sam Redgewell as Chairman. Mrs Price, who accompanied our students, reported that all their speeches were well constructed and she was impressed by the manner in which the teams engaged with each other’s arguments. The Thorley Hill teachers described our students as “well prepared, friendly and a credit to your school” and the feedback from their pupils included these comments:

I liked it when they asked how many children like going to the dentist. It was really funny.”

“I liked the way that they replied to each other's arguments in their speeches, I thought that was interesting.”

 The following week saw James Gor in the chair at Summercroft Primary School, with Alfie Aylett & Amy Graseman proposing “This House Believes That the Internet Has Done More Harm Than Good” against Connor Davies & Will Clayden-Smith and Sofia from Summercroft as timekeeper.  In a vote taken before the debate, a substantial majority of the audience were against the motion.

Alfie was the only speaker who had represented TBSHS outside school before and Amy was actually making her debut as a main speaker. Nevertheless, her speech was well paced and she spoke very clearly, making good use of gesture. She acknowledged that the Internet is not all bad, but the problems with privacy and fraud outweighed its positive aspects. Connor responded with a well-constructed speech, providing some effective rebuttal to some of Amy’s points, but ran a little short of time. Alfie, described by one of the Year 6 teachers as “very personable”, provided a pleasing range of arguments for the motion and I felt that he managed to pitch his speech at just the right level for the audience. Will also demonstrated excellent variations in his voice and established a good connection with the audience as he explained how his side had given more thought to the ‘bigger picture’. James, who was an extremely confident, calm and sympathetic chairman throughout the debate, controlled the floor debate very well and I was particularly impressed by Connor’s summary speech. The final vote was won by the Opposition, but was closer than the first one, so both sides could claim a measure of success.

All three debates were very well received, with large numbers of students expressing the desire to get involved with debating in the future. Congratulations to all the TBSHS students involved and thanks to Mr Patterson & Mrs Price for accompanying them and to the children and staff at Thorley Hill, Hillmead and Summercroft for making us so welcome in their schools.