Debate TNOn Tuesday 24th January, the St Mary’s Debate Team travelled to Bishop Wordsworth School in Salisbury to take part in the second round of the English Speaking Union debate tournament. The competition was comprised of two debates, involving four teams. Only one team from the four would be advanced to the next round.

Tashy, Kevwe and Costanza (all LVI/ Year 12) took speaking roles in a debate against St Swithun’s School, making the proposition that 'this House believes that countries with poor human rights records should be banned from hosting international sporting events'. Ashleigh and Polly took a support role in the debate, helping their teammates develop their arguments and providing questions for speakers in the other debate that took place in the second round.

The St Mary’s team had spent weeks researching their debate topic and shaping their arguments in the LVI Debate Club. This was evident in the well-crafted speeches that each speaker delivered and the confidence with which they were able to challenge the points made by the opposing team.

The standard of the debate was very high and both teams engaged in many rhetorical tactics to enhance their arguments. The St Mary’s students demonstrated swiftness of thinking when dealing with points of information from their opponents and questions from the floor. They bravely took themselves out of their comfort zones to speak on a challenging subject for a prolonged time and they earned praise from the judges for the quality of their arguments and the depth of supporting detail that they used to support these arguments. All members of the team contributed to other debate that was part of the round, asking insightful questions on the subject UK electoral reform.

The high quality of the contributions made by all teams gave the ESU judging panel a difficult job. It took them 40 minutes of deliberation to reach their final judgement. Despite St Mary’s scoring highly on the judging criteria, the Bishop Wordsworth Team achieved the highest score of the evening and so moved on to the next round in the competition.

The St Mary’s team received individual feedback from the judges and were satisfied that a tough competition had provided them with an experience that they will use to develop their debating and public speaking skills. They should be very proud of producing an excellent performance and making the judges’ task of picking the winner a difficult one.

Mr Adrian Stoten, History and Politics teacher