The Ecclesbourne School power through as Debating Matters Online Champions for January!

The third Debating Matters Online Championship ends with Ecclesbourne victorious

Six schools from around the country spent much of January thinking hard about and debating some of the key questions of our time. With pandemic restrictions still in place, Debating Matters was delighted to continue to jump online to offer its unique approach to schools’ debating. 

After a hard fought competition, with superb performances from both teams, it was The Ecclesbourne School who ended up champions, beating Gosforth Academy in an exceptional final where Ecclesbourne defended the motion ‘Western museums should repatriate cultural artefacts’. 

The competition saw The Ecclesbourne School win their group stage debates against University Technical College Norfolk and Havering College, with Gosforth Academy likewise topping their group which contained Oundle School and St John Rigby College. All six schools fielded excellent teams with spirited performances from all debaters. It was clear from the very beginning of the tournament that debaters had spent their time with the Debating Matters Topic Guides, reading through the introductory essays produced by the boi charity and delving into the further reading. 

Indeed, such was the quality on offer that many of the debates finished as split decisions from the judging panels, which, as ever in Debating Matters, consisted of three eminent individuals from the arts, politics, business and the media. Debating Matters is extremely grateful for their involvement. 

Given the wide variety of excellent points being made throughout the tournament, Debating Matters was delighted to recognise a number of individuals in the prize giving. Adam Cassidy of Gosforth Academy took the Commended prize and Ruby Rowlands of The Ecclesbourne School won Highly Commended. However, it was Lyra Christie of Gosforth Academy who took the highly coveted Best Individual prize, after impressing in her group stage debate and her excellent and thoughtful performance in the final. In addition, Amelie Holtby of Oundle School, Syd Orchard of Havering Sixth Form College, Ornella Drake of University Technical College Norfolk and Kieran Elison from St John Rigby College also all won honourable mentions for their great points and good research. 

Debating Matters often refers to the teachers as the true ‘unsung heroes’ of the competition, as they spend significant amounts of time preparing their pupils and encouraging them to delve deeply into the subjects. As ever, we thank all the teachers for their time and dedication, especially under the current circumstances. 

Louise Dawson, the teacher from The Ecclesbourne School, had this to say in reaction to their victory: 

“We are in a state of shock! Everyone in the team has been in touch to say how much they enjoyed the whole experience. They worked so hard and I am very proud of them. We entered the competition with no expectations of doing anything more than taking part. We never expected to get this far let alone win. The students have learned so much and greatly appreciated the respect the judges have shown through their tough questioning. The students keep asking me: what next? It is no exaggeration to say that Debating Matters has literally changed their lives. This has been the best thing in a dark time.”

Similarly, Robert MacDonald of Oundle School, who’s team only just missed out on reaching the final, reacted:

“Debating Matters was very welcoming. It is a very professional competition yet very accessible to all, and our pupils were well signposted towards what they would need to do, whilst also treated as mature debaters.”

To find out how to get involved in future competitions, please email Mo Lovatt