Hartlepool Sixth Form College clinch Debating Matters North East Championship 2019

Debating Matters North East Championship, 5 July 2019

Debating Matters came to the historic city of Durham on Friday 5 July to give six schools from across the North East the chance to engage in a day of ideas-driven public debate.

After a uniquely close day – featuring, for the first time, two tie-break decisions to separate the schools in each of the two groups – it was Hartlepool Sixth Form College who triumphed, impressing the judges throughout the day with their intellectual bravery and ability to stick to their guns under pressure.

In a heated final debate on the motion ‘Populism is a threat to democracy’, the winners adopted a vigorous defence of populism against status-quo politicians who didn’t pay attention to the needs of the majority. They narrowly beat Barnard Castle School who attacked the dangerous historical parallels they saw with contemporary populists.

Hartlepool Sixth Form College, the winners of Debating Matters North East

Earlier in the day, students tackled topics such as ‘Monuments to controversial historical figures should remain’ and ‘Childhood vaccinations should be compulsory’. It was to the credit of all students involved that these debates were both fiercely fought and intellectually invigorating, with participants showing a keen grasp of the scientific, economic, and above all moral issues at play. The judges for the day – drawn from local business, politics, and academia among others – were impressed by the breadth and depth of research.

The runners-up, Barnard Castle School

The judges awarded Kate Harrison of Yarm School the prize of ‘Best Individual’ for her consistently great argumentation and impassioned speaking, with Kieran McAdam of Gosforth Academy and Esia Forsyth of Barnard Castle School picking up the ‘Highly Commended’ and ‘Commended’ titles respectively.

The winner of Best Individual, Kate Harrison


  1. For further information about the event, the Debating Matters competition or to request photos or interviews with students, teachers, judges and other participants, please contact Jacob Reynolds on 020 7269 9231 or email jacob@theboi.co.uk
  2. The students were all Year 12 and 13 sixth-form students from:
    • Barnard Castle School
    • Durham Sixth Form Centre
    • Gosforth Academy
    • Hartlepool Sixth Form College
    • The Hermitage Academy
    • Yarm School
  3. Created in 2002, Debating Matters is a national sixth-form debating competition for students from around the UK. DM offers a fresh, accessible and engaging format for debating contemporary real-world issues, with an emphasis on substance, not just style of debating, and the importance of taking ideas seriously.
  4. Debating Matters is a project of the boi charity. For more information on the charity, please visit theboi.co.uk
  5. Follow Debating Matters on Twitter: @DebatingMatters