Debating Matters went online!

To help keep students engaged and support teachers with something exciting for their pupils to do, we took Debating Matters Online during the coronavirus lockdown.

The response we received from teachers, judges and Debating Matters alumni was hugely encouraging. We knew that Debating Matters has a wide network of supporters and all of your messages and offers of support were hugely appreciated (especially those – schools or judges – that we haven’t yet been able to involve!).

In the past weeks, we’ve engaged dozens of students, judges and teachers across six showcase online debates – read about them in detail here. We’ve seen cracking debates take place on everything from whether ‘Social media sites should filter out fake news‘ to whether ‘Britain should pay reparations for its colonial past‘. Many of the debates have taken on a new colour from the coronavirus crisis – the topic on compulsory vaccinations is just one example – but it has also been important to remind ourselves that as important as coronavirus is, there are a host of other moral, political and scientific questions that we all need to interrogate.

As well as getting to grips with important contemporary issues, and keeping intellects engaged whilst we follow social distancing, Debating Matters Online has given many pupils, teacher and professionals a reminder of the importance of meeting minds and forging social connections. In fact, we’ve been able to break down distance barriers like never before: whether its schools from London and Derry debating each other, alumni from Berlin joining in the conversation, or judges zooming in from Washington DC.

We’ll soon be sharing some video-snippets of how it all went down, but for now, we want to thank everyone who took part, and congratulate the winners: Cardiff Sixth Form College, Havering College, Queen Elizabeth’s Grammar School, Exeter College, Thornhill College Derry, and St Edward’s School Oxford. Likewise, the high standard of the debates meant that the judges had a series of very tough choices, and so we also want to send our commiserations to those teams who were just pipped to the post: Cirencester College, Magdalen College School, Queens School Bushey, East London Science School, and Durham High School for Girls.

Like many, we are anticipating that schools will be returning soon, and so schools will be able to take debate into the classrooms again. But until then, if there are any schools still eager to participate in DM Online, please do get in touch with Jacob Reynolds

Finally, a short plea from us. At the boi charity, we haven’t gone into furlough. In fact, we’ve been as busy as ever organising debates and preparing for online events. So if you would like to show your appreciation and help out a good cause, please consider donating to the boi charity.

DM Online: How to keep debating during the lockdown

We’re delighted to announce the launch of Debating Matters Online – our contribution to keeping debate alive during these difficult times. 

During the lockdown, its important that everyone does their bit to support one another and find new ways to keep social isolation at bay. That’s why we wanted to take Debating Matters Online, and provide materials to support teachers or parents who want to keep pupils intellectually engaged during the lockdown.

After a successful pilot debate (which you can watch here), we are making the full how-to guide available for teachers, students, and anyone interested in keeping debate alive. You can use it to organise your own debates.

You can find the guide on our website here. 

Alongside this guide, which anyone can use, the Debating Matters team will be organising a number of DM Online debates – we’ll invite judges, chair the debate, and match up interested schools to debate against each other. If you would like to take part, please email bernie@theboi.co.uk

Humboldt Gymnasium clinch victory at Debating Matters Berlin 2020

A thoughtful and determined team from Humboldt Gymnasium beat eleven other schools from around Berlin to win the coveted Debating Matters Berlin trophy at an essential day of debate hosted by University of Applied Sciences Europe (UE) and supported by Freiblickinstitut. In a challenging and at times charged final on whether Germany should pay reparations for its colonial past, Humboldt, arguing in favour, triumphed over Lessing Gymnasium.

Humboldt Gymnasium, the winners of Debating Matters Berlin 2020

Lessing Gymnasium argued persuasively throughout the day, impressing with their intellectual depth as they won their way through debates on whether people should have fewer children to solve the climate emergency and whether social egg freezing empowers women. They then won their semi-final against Paulsen Gymnasium, arguing against mandatory vaccinations for children, in which they memorably cited the German Grundgesetz (‘basic law’) in defence of their case.

However, it was Humboldt who got the better of the arguments in a cracking final debate, with their team arguing passionately that Germany has a moral obligation to provide reparations to former colonies, citing the importance of Germany’s post-war reparations to Jews in Israel as a model.

The event was hosted at UE’s Berlin campus, and judges from the University joined others from around Berlin to put students on the spot to develop and justify their arguments. Students were warmly received into the University as the valuable partnership between Debating Matters and UE gave German pupils an opportunity to enter into the spirit of the unique Debating Matters format. Similarly, Freiblickinstitut provided invaluable support to the competition and have been a longstanding champion of Debating Matters and its ethos of open debate.

The judges awarded Giulio Polisi of Lessing Gymnasium the coveted Best Individual prize for his intellectual breadth and consistently excellent panel performances, with Federica Ballardini taking the Highly Commended prize in second place and Jakob von Bullion with the Commended prize.

Clockwise from top, the Best Individual Guilio Polisi, Highly Commended Federica Ballardini and Commended Jakob von Bullion receiving their prizes from Professor Filipe de Castro Soeiro

NOTES

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

The students were all from:

  • Bertha-von-Suttner-Gymnasium
  • Eckener-Gymnasium
  • Gottfried-Keller-Gymnasium
  • Gymnasium Steglitz
  • Hans-Carossa-Gymnasium
  • Humboldt-Gymnasium
  • Leibniz-Gymnasium
  • Lessing-Gymnasium
  • Paulsen-Gymnasium
  • Schadow-Gymnasium
  • Werner-von-Siemens-Gymnasium
  • Wilma-Rudolph-Oberschule

Created in 2002, Debating Matters is a UK-based debating competition. 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.

Debating Matters is a project of the boi charity. For more information on the charity, please visit www.theboi.co.uk

Follow Debating Matters on Twitter: @DebatingMatters

For further information about the competition, visit www.debatingmatters.com

For further information about Freiblickinstitut, visit www.freiblickinstitut.de

Calling all Sixth Formers! Debating Matters returns to Solent University for Southampton Championship

Photos from 2019’s successful Debating Matters Southampton Championship

Sixth-form students from eight schools in Southampton will battle it out for the title of Debating Matters Southampton Champions 2020 at a flagship day of debate on Wednesday 5 February. The event will be hosted by Solent University and produced in partnership with NATS.

Registration is now open for the competition, which sees 16- to 18-year-olds take part in a series of debates in what has been dubbed ‘the UK’s toughest debating competition’. Local schools will enter teams of between four and six sixth-form students, and Debating Matters particularly welcomes applications from schools without a history of traditional debating.

Solent University offers industry focused degrees and courses with first class facilities and quality teaching. Tere McGonagle-Daly, the Pro-Vice Chancellor (External Relations) of Solent University said:

“We’re delighted to be hosting the Debating Matters Southampton Championship in 2020 and look forward to welcome local schools and colleges to the event. Our Spark building will provide a fantastic backdrop for the event, encouraging discussion and debate amongst young people. Being located in the centre of Southampton and home to a diverse community of staff and students we are aware of the many social and environmental issues faced by society. I look forward to hearing young people’s thoughts on these issues and ideas as to how society can overcome them”.

NATS is the UK’s leading provider of air traffic control services and partner of Debating Matters Southampton. Simon Warr, communications director for NATS said:

“Debating Matters is a very rewarding challenge for all participants. Not only is it hotly contested on the day, but the knowledge and skills people learn will serve them well in any future career they pursue. NATS is delighted to be able to help bring this great initiative to the Southampton and Hampshire area.”

As ever with Debating Matters, it will be the substance of the arguments – rather than the style of presentation – that will decide the winners, and participants are encouraged to leave no stone unturned in a day of fierce, frantic and, most importantly, free debate. The students will face judging panels of adults from a wide range of professional backgrounds – including local business leaders, scientists, authors and academics – who will quiz them on their arguments and challenge them to defend their research and thinking.

Notes

To book a place for your school at Debating Matters Southampton, please email Bernie Whelan on bernie@theboi.co.uk or call on 020 7269 9230. Please note, there are VERY LIMITED SPACES. Get in touch ASAP to take part.

Journalists are welcome to attend the debates, which take place all day. To confirm a place, or for all other press inquiries, please call Jacob Reynolds on 020 7269 9231 or email jacob@theboi.co.uk

Permission is granted to use the included photo for press matters in an article about the Debating Matters Southampton 2020 Championship

Follow Debating Matters on Twitter @DebatingMatters

Created in 2002, Debating Matters is a nationwide 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.

Debating Matters is a project of the boi charity. For more information on the charity, please visit www.theboi.co.uk For further information about the competition, go to www.debatingmatters.com

Debating Matters returns to Sherborne Girls School for South West Championship

Photos from the successful 2019 South West Championship

Sixth-form students from eight schools in the South West will battle it out for the title of Debating Matters South West Champions 2020 at a flagship day of debate on Thursday 23rd January. We are delighted to be returning to Sherborne Girls School, Dorset for this championship.

Registration is now open for the competition, which sees 16- to 18-year-olds take part in a series of debates in what has been dubbed ‘the UK’s toughest debating competition’. Local schools will enter teams of between four and six sixth-form students, and Debating Matters particularly welcomes applications from schools without a history of traditional debating.

After a very successful competition last year at Sherborne Girl’s School, where the competition saw an extremely high level of debate and many distinguished judges putting students under pressure, we are sure to be in for a great day.

“There are many skills that we hope to impart to our pupils during their time at Sherborne Girls. We hope, for example, to make them confident thinkers, people who can defend their ideas but show humility when presented with the ideas of others. We hope to make them verbally dextrous, capable of expressing themselves with economy and élan. And we hope to give them an appreciation of the power of intellect to shape the world and make a positive difference. We are therefore delighted to be hosting the Debating Matters South West Championship and to welcome students from across Dorset, in independent and state schools, together for a debate that is judged by leading figures in the media, law, commerce, academia and industry. Through initiatives like this, I hope we encourage students to be intellectually flexible, and able to engage with the complex mores of the contemporary world.”
Louise Troup, Head of English at Sherborne Girls School

As ever with Debating Matters, it will be the substance of the arguments – rather than the style of presentation – that will decide the winners, and participants are encouraged to leave no stone unturned in a day of fierce, frantic and, most importantly, free debate. The students will face judging panels of adults from a wide range of professional backgrounds – including local business leaders, scientists, authors and academics – who will quiz them on their arguments and challenge them to defend their research and thinking.

Notes                                         

To book a place for your school at Debating Matters South West, please email Bernie Whelan on bernie@theboi.co.uk  or call on 020 7269 9230. Please note, there are VERY LIMITED SPACES. Get in touch ASAP to take part.

Journalists are welcome to attend the debates, which take place all day. To confirm a place, or for all other press inquiries, please call Jacob Reynolds on 020 7269 9231 or email jacob@theboi.co.uk  

Permission is granted to use the included photo for press matters in an article about the Debating Matters South West 2020 Championship

Follow Debating Matters on Twitter @DebatingMatters

Created in 2002, Debating Matters is a nationwide 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.

Debating Matters is a project of the boi charity. For more information on the charity, please visit www.theboi.co.uk For further information about the competition, go to www.debatingmatters.com.