Another Final for TBSHS Debaters
More Success for TBSHS Debaters
Hot on the heels of winning through to the third round of the ESU Mace, Year 13 debaters Toby Ford & Georgi Petkov have achieved further success, qualifying for International Finals Day in the Cambridge University Schools competition. Along with Year 12 students Oliver Worthy & Aidan Quinn (the latter making his interschool debut), they travelled to the world-famous Cambridge Union for four closely-fought rounds of debates, each with only 15 minutes’ preparation time.
In the first round Aidan & Oliver had to open the case against ‘tiger parenting’, Their arguments focussed on the negative effects on the children of tiger parents, especially the lack of freedom of choice and the consequential stunting of personality. They competed well, correctly questioning their opponents’ insistence that tiger parenting helps their children to earn more money and therefore be happier. In a debate won by a strong pair of speakers from Berkhamsted School, they gained a well-deserved second place ahead of teams representing Norwich School & The Perse. Georgi & Toby spoke first in the defence of tiger parenting in their room and were also placed second.
In the second round both our teams spoke second in favour of the motion “This House Regrets the rise of social media as a primary source of news”. Toby argued that social media present a narrow spectrum of ideas in an ‘echo chamber’, whereas, before their inception, a Guardian reader like himself was more likely to read and respond to the views of a Daily Telegraph reader.. In a well-argued summary speech, Georgi reinforced Toby’s points and stressed the importance of quality rather than quantity in news output. Their speeches earned them another second place, behind Norwich School. However, Oliver & Aidan had to be content with fourth in their debate.
After lunch the topics for debate were more complex, but this did not deter our speakers, and they were helped by the fact that each TBSHS team boasted a student of A Level Politics. Opening against the motion that “This House, as a highly educated progressive in a developing democracy, would choose to work for the corrupt government”, Oliver advocated a ‘bottom-up revolution’ as a preferable strategy, drawing upon the Russian Revolution of 1917 as a case study and refuting his opponents’ claims that increased access to policy makers was an important argument in favour of the motion. Aidan backed him up well, arguing that it is the mass of the people, not governments, that bring about change in a country and giving Martin Luther King as an example of someone who achieved this without violence. In a close decision, the TBSHS team won first place, a feat matched by Toby & Georgi in their debate.
In the last round, our Year 13 pair formed the closing team against the motion that criminal policy should be decided by appointed experts rather than elected politicians. In a strong performance Georgi argued that the current arrangement of politicians who are accountable to electors, advised by civil servants who are legal experts, represents the best of both worlds. He added a point not raised by the other teams, namely that politicians are more forward-looking than experts in the law, who tend to rely on legal precedent. Concluding the debate, Toby delivered a very well-rounded summary, identifying this argument and the more balanced nature of the Opposition case as the two key issues that mattered most. The judge awarded TBSHS a clear win in this debate, while Oliver & Aidan, supporting the motion, came a close third in their room.
Thirty-six teams from the eastern side of England from as far North as Doncaster and including ‘big name’ independent schools such as Repton and Oundle, took part in this event. Toby & Georgi’s excellent afternoon put them in second place overall, easily qualifying for Finals Day. Aidan, who only took up debating last term, and Oliver gained a very respectable 21st place.
Headteacher, Dale Reeve, added, “Congratulations to the students and staff involved in another competition success. We put a lot of time in to developing Debating skills at TBSHS and, given that we’re often competing against some of the top independent schools, it is great to see our students performing so well. For Toby and Georgi to make it through to the International Finals Day is an incredible achievement and we look forward to seeing how far they can go in this competition and in the ESU Mace”