TBSHS Junior Debaters Open Their Account

Year 10's take part in two competitions

Date published: Mon 15 Mar 2021   Author: HLH/ADF   Category: News   Share: Share on facebookShare on TwitterShare on MySpaceShare by Email

TBSHS Junior Debaters Open Their Account


The last two weeks of February saw the school’s participation in two debating competitions limited to students in Year 10 and below

Clubs & Societies International Competition for Young Debaters

 This year’s competition is being run by Cambridge University students with a number of regional rounds offering the opportunity for teams to qualify for Finals Day in May. As the online rounds for Cambridge and Sheffield were scheduled the same day, they were combined into a single event, featuring 28 teams, including three from TBSHS, the only state school involved.

The first motion of the day, “This house would ban international aid charities from using sensational, graphic, or overly-emotional images of suffering in fundraising and advertising campaigns” had been released several days earlier, giving speakers the chance to research the topic and prepare speeches for and against., without knowing until 15 minutes before the debate which side they would be taking. Two Year 10 teams from TBSHS found themselves making up the entire Government (Proposition) bench. Opening the debate, Luca Ollandini, in a well-structured speech, concentrated on the moral aspects of the motion, arguing that the use of shocking images could traumatise people, especially children and that exploiting donors’ sense of guilt was unethical and unworthy of charities.  Supporting him, Oliver Worthy took issue with the first Opposition speaker’s assertion that displaying sensational images is justified because it saves lives by quoting research that showed that positive images generate more income and are less subject to the law of diminishing returns over time. Henry Davis, the first speaker in the bottom half of the debate, extended the earlier arguments for the motion and introduced a new point, namely the danger of images becoming increasingly graphic in an attempt to sustain donations. Summarising the case for the motion, 
Luca Ollandini            Alex Banhidai rightly identified the clash between his side’s objections on        William Worthy
moral grounds and the Opposition’s defence that no laws were being broken, but had less success in demolishing the more nuanced arguments put forward by the ‘swing’ speaker (a university student substituting for a school that had withdrawn at the last minute). Unfortunately, the judge was much less impressed by our teams than I was, placing Oliver & Luca third and Alex & Henry fourth. Meanwhile, Adrian Atanassov & Aryan Armani (Year 9), watched by Mr Patterson as they made an understandably nervous beginning to their first interschool competition, also closed for the motion and were awarded fourth place.
Fortunately, an early lunch gave our speakers time to recover from this inauspicious start and they approached the 15-minute preparation for the second debate with renewed determination. This time Aryan spoke first against the motion, “This House Believes That Countries Should Be Allowed to Reject Refugees on the Basis of Cultural Reasons”. He attacked the opening speaker’s point that refugees from different cultures were ‘disruptive’ to their host nation by asserting that all people had equal human rights. Adrian reinforced the team’s belief in equality, pointing out that refugees choose a host country because they share its values, thus refuting the “they can always go somewhere else” argument put forward by the opening speaker from Oundle School. The TBSHS pair won this debate, beating representatives from Oundle, RGS Worcester and Manchester Grammar School for Girls. This success was matched by Luca & Oliver, speaking second for the motion, with Henry & Alex, closing the debate in the same room, unfortunately fourth again.

The luck of the draw eluded the latter pair in the third round, as they found themselves in the ‘bottom half’ (generally considered more difficult, especially for younger speakers) yet again, opposing the motion “This House Would Allow Victims of Violent Crimes to Veto the Prosecution of Offenders”. Henry was the first Opposition speaker to make the point that allowing the victim to make a statement in court about the impact of the crime satisfied the need for them to be heard (a point on which earlier speakers for the motion has laid great stress) and also argued that legal professionals are better qualified to decide whether defendants should be prosecuted. Summarising his side’s case, Alex reinforced these points, also attacking his opponents for failing to explain how the motion would be implemented and generally making a good job of explaining why the motion should be defeated. Their reward was a well-deserved second place.      

Adrian & Aryan, speaking first for the motion, were also placed second in their room, but Oliver & Luca, closing for the motion had to be content with third place in a debate won by another strong older ‘swing’ speaker.
In the overall table of 28 teams, Luca & Oliver finished in a very creditable 10th place, just ahead of Aryan & Adrian, who came 11th equal, with Alex
 & Henry  24th.  In the individual speaker rankings, it was very pleasing
Aryan Armani               to see all our speakers in the top 30 places.
                                                                                                                                                                                   Adrian Atanassov

Imperial Debating (@icdebate) | Twitter Imperial College London Juniors

 Only a week later, the two Year 10 teams were back in action, this time on the Discord platform, rather than Zoom, for a junior competition hosted by Imperial College London. This event only started last year, but Imperial College has a good record for well-run competitions that attract accomplished speakers. Fifty-six teams, representing 17 schools, including a debating academy from South Africa, took part. The first motion of the day was “This House Supports Streaming in Schools”, defining streaming as a process of grouping students by academic ability. In the debate that I observed all the teams worked on the assumption that students would be placed in different sets for each subject. Oliver & Luca spoke second in favour of the motion on the same side as a strong pair from City of London School for Girls.

After effectively refuting several points from the Opposition Luca argued that students working with others of similar abilities are happier than those either frustrated because others hold them back or demotivated because they cannot keep up. His speech was well structured, as was Oliver’s closing speech. He identified the points of clash clearly and made a good job of comparing the arguments from each side and emphasising Luca’s contribution, as well dealing well with a potentially awkward Point of Information. The judge gave us some very helpful feedback, suggesting a good method of developing one’s arguments, before awarding the TBSHS team third place.  In their room Henry & Alex, opening a debate won by an Eton team, also came third.

I felt that the second motion “This House Believes that Leadership Elections for UIK Political Parties Should Implement Gender Quotas for Their Candidates” was a demanding one for students in Year 10 and below, but I was very impressed by the way that it was tackled by the TBSHS team that closed the case for the motion. Henry fulfilled his role very well, extending the case by emphasising that women are underrepresented in national politics and praising the different viewpoint that they bring if elected. He was also the first speaker to point out that seeing plenty of female leadership candidates would inspire more women to get involved in politics and, as the judge later remarked, his rebuttal of the leading Opposition speakers was very effective. Alex produced a very well-constructed summary of the debate as a whole. He criticised the Opposition’s obsession with minor practical detail in contrast to Henry’s message of equality and hope, identified further points of clash and explained why he felt that his side had won. He followed this up with a really sharp question to the final speaker in the debate. I thought that this was the best I had seen Alex & Henry debate for the school and they gained a well-deserved win over teams from Dulwich College, Sevenoaks School and Wycombe Abbey School.   Luca & Oliver also felt that they had done well as Opening Opposition in their room, but unfortunately the judge did not see it the same way and awarded them another third place.

Alex Banhidai                                                                                                                   Henry Davis  

In their last debate of the day, both our teams had the tough task of closing the case against the motion “This House Believes that Countries With Bad Human Rights Records Should Not Be Allowed to Host the Olympics”. Luca ‘signposted’ his arguments, concerning morality, fairness and culture very clearly, but some of his ideas needed better explanation. However, he was commended by the judge for his responses to the preceding speaker’s arguments about the treatment of visiting athletes. Oliver spoke more confidently than in the first round, backing his teammate up robustly and dealing very well with his opponents’ attempts to unsettle him with Points of Information. The strong ending to his speech demonstrated that he had acted on advice given to him earlier in the day. The team achieved yet another third place, although I felt that they might just have beaten Dulwich for second. Henry & Alex’s success in the previous round brought them up against three very strong teams, including one from St Paul’s Girls and they had to be content with fourth place. In the final results table, they finished 33rd out of 56 teams, but both of them were in the top half of the individual speaker rankings, while Oliver & Luca came 44th as a team.

Our speakers, all relatively inexperienced in this format, achieved creditable results in two events where I believe that they were the only representatives of the state sector. More often than not, they were in the ‘bottom half’ of the debate, traditionally reckoned to be more challenging, especially for younger debaters and/or on the harder side of the motion. Nevertheless, they competed with great spirit throughout both days and told me afterwards that they had enjoyed the experience, which will stand them in good stead in their debating futures. Congratulations and many thanks to them for representing the school so well.