Pupils Compete in National Debating Competition

St Peter's School

Pupils Compete in National Debating Competition

Oxford Schools Debating

On Tuesday 29th January, 53 teams from 20 schools came to St Peter's to compete in the North/North East regional round of the Oxford Schools Debating Competition - the largest British Parliamentary style (BP) debating contest in the world - which brings together teams from all over the UK and Ireland.

BP is a fast paced variety of debating, that pits four teams against each other (two proposing a motion, two opposing) to debate a controversial and topical issue. Each team must argue from a unique angle, constructing the strongest case they can, while simultaneously trying to demolish the arguments of those opposing them, with preparation limited to 15 minutes and no outside help. Several St Peter’s teams entered this competition, ready to compete against each other, and the visiting schools.

With the first motion being announced as “This house would abolish private schools”, the 53 teams scattered around the Pascal building. The standard of debate was high, especially considering this was the first round of the competition, and the St Peter’s teams acquitted themselves well to either defending the institution in which they were standing, or tearing it down, as their assigned position required.

After a break, in which the first round scores and rankings were calculated, the second motion was announced- “This house believes that studios should recast BME (black and minority ethnic) actors in iconic roles”. The teams were facing new opponents, with a new motion and the new challenges that entailed. With arguments based on topics as diverse and far reaching as the rise of the gilet jaunes, teenage depression, and accurate representation of cultures, this debate began to delve deeper than the first, with teams seeming to hit their stride and engaging with each other more often.

In the end only nine teams could go through to the nationals, and despite the high level of debate from all our teams, only one St Peter’s team made it through. But every one of our debaters demonstrated what the competition aims to promote; thoughtful arguments and analytical problem solving, presented with great skill and confidence, that heightened the level of competitive debate and will continue to serve them well.

Many thanks to Ewan, Captain of Debating, for this report.