‘After lugging the huge debating shield all the way down to Isaac Newton Academy, we only had to bring it all the way back up to Wembley with us. We won!
The day consisted of three separate debates against different schools, followed by a final debate in the afternoon between the highest scoring two teams of the day. The students had one week to prepare for the first debate with the other three motions given to them on competition day. They had about 20 minutes to research the topic and construct their answers. For these segments no books or internet are allowed, you can only use your memory and existing knowledge.
To kick off the day our team were debating for the motion that ‘Performance enhancing drugs should be allowed in sport’, against Helenswood School. Our debaters for this round were Freddie, Haider and Cullen, with Cullen securing a win with a truly excellent summarising speech that knocked all the other team’s arguments out of the park! Haider said ‘I think tone of voice, having confidence, your presence and your posture, all elevate the argument. When you’re confident the audience are engaged and assumes you know what you’re talking about.’
In round two our opposition were Bolingbroke Academy, arguing for the motion that ‘Cosmetic surgery should be banned’ and our team, who were against the motion, consisted of Freddie, Anithya and Jai. The students felt our performance in this debate was much better, that Freddie spoke more confidently than in the first one and ensured his points were stronger.
The opposing team were very strong, with confident speakers and well thought out arguments but the solidarity and quick thinking shown by our team ensured their arguments were tighter – as well as some aggressive Points of Information from Freddie!
Anithya said: ‘The motions were interesting and original and there was a nice atmosphere because our opponents were friendly.
Round three’s motion was a bit of a surprise – ‘A company’s highest paid employee should earn no more than 10x the wage of their lowest paid employee’ and arguing for this motion which they really had no prior knowledge of, against Burlington Danes, the students showed just how well they can think on their feet and put arguments together in a short space of time. Jai explained: ‘This was an awkward sounding motion and very difficult because we didn’t have a great understanding of the business world so that made it harder.’ With very spirited speeches from Jai and Cullen we managed to out-debate the opposition and ensure we won all three opening rounds.
Cullen felt that the experience improved him as a debater: ‘It has helped my confidence and skills as a summariser and I am going to take my new skills into the Ark Academy House debating competition.’ Amanda said she learnt new things about being a debater such as ’getting to the base of the motion or problem and then moving upwards with your argument from there.’
In the final we were up against our old opponents from last year’s final – Charter Academy and both sides had kept almost the same team for the final. The motion was one which the students feel was very close to their hearts, ‘This house would allow parents to monitor their children’s internet and mobile phone communications’ (you can imagine how shocked and appalled at the idea they were!) We were led to victory by an excellent opening speech from Kassia, our very confident and quick-thinking second speaker, Anithya , and Jai’s fabulous summation speech.
When asked why they thought they had won the final, Kassia said: ‘The opposition didn’t define the communications motion in the last debate clearly, so we had lots to pick holes in.’
She paid tribute to the team effort overall explaining: ‘Throughout the competition, I learnt that teamwork was the driving force that led us to victory.’ She explained that everyone contributed and played to their strengths: ‘Jai did the evidence, facts and figures and Amanda provided the ethical points. The whole group contributed to brainstorm of points and main arguments. Finally the coherence of the final speech was down to Jai.’
The floor debaters certainly cannot go unrecognised; they have 10-15 seconds to make their point in order to strengthen their team’s argument, before the final summation. As Maariyah excellently described it: ‘The importance of being a floor debater is that you are contributing to your team but in a subtle way.’
Kassia commented on the verdict saying: ‘It was so satisfying and overwhelming to win. They said ‘The winners are the opposition’ and it took us a moment to realise they were talking about us!’
All in all the students had a fabulous day and the Ark Debating Championship shield gets to stay in our trophy cabinet for another year!