A brilliant series of performances gave Barnard Castle School the victory in a challenging week of online debate in Debating Matters’ first Public Policy Championships. It was a fantastic series of debates over the week, showcasing a range of new Debating Matters Topic Guides and a renewed focus on real-world policy discussions.
Students debated a range of contemporary issues, from whether vaccine passports benefit society to whether the UK should reduce its foreign aid budget, whether the government should intervene to discourage unhealthy lifestyles and whether monuments to controversial figures should be torn down.
In all cases, the debates were hard-fought with the schools demonstrating their research and carefully crafted arguments. There was a hard battle for victory in each of the discussions, with the winners being those who impressed the judges – and stood up to their questioning – by driving home arguments gleaned from the extensive resources available in the new Topic Guides.
It was a feisty team from Burnley College who made it through to the final, but they were narrowly beaten by Barnard Castle, who managed to convince the judges that removing controversial monuments did more to erase the past than come to terms with it. Burnley, however, gave a great account of themselves, and impressed in their victories over Havering Sixth Form College and Queen Elizabeth’s Grammar School, Faversham in the group stages. Barnard Castle had battled their way through debates against The Ecclesbourne School and Queen Mary’s College, all of whom put up stiff resistance.
As ever, each of the schools were put under pressure by panels of expert judges, who encouraged the pupils to further develop their arguments and think quickly on their feet. Debating Matters offers thanks to all those judges who volunteered their time to help develop the next generation of young minds.
In addition to the prizes for the winner and runners-up teams, Debating Matters was delighted to award prizes for the top three ‘best individuals’ who had impressed the judges throughout the competition with consistently great questions. Winning the Commended (third place) prize was Isabelle Passmore from Burnley College, and the Highly Commended (second place) prize was Tadgh Kerin from Havering College. But the Best Individual from the tournament was Anna Coyle of the victorious Barnard Castle, as she seriously impressed the judges with her intellectual nimbleness and range of arguments.
In addition to the three prize winners, the judges were very keen to ensure that the wide variety of great contributions were acknowledged, which meant ‘honourable mentions’ were given to: Isaac Tompkinson, Katie Skelton and Pandora Deaville from The Ecclesbourne School; Jamie Spice and Emily Jack of Queen Elizabeth’s Grammar School, Faversham; Megan Lucas of Burnley College; and Ella Thomas and Adam Cramer of Queen Mary’s College.
The Debating Matters Public Policy Championships will return very soon to offer the opportunity for a fresh set of young people to battle it out over important public debates confronting society.