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

NOTES FOR EDITORS

  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

Sir Henry Floyd Grammar School wins DM Oxfordshire Championship

Debating Matters has a showcase day as part of the Oxford Festival of the Arts – with a special evening event to boot.

Debating Matters came to the Oxford Union to give eight local schools the chance to test their ideas and arguments in the unique debating format where substance rather than style carries the day. After a hard-fought day of debate, it was Sir Henry Floyd Grammar School who came out on top, impressing the judges and their peers with their outstanding ability to marshal arguments and discuss complex topics.

In a heated final debate on the motion ‘Populism is a threat to democracy’, the winners successfully made the case that populism is to be welcomed as it refocuses politics on the concerns of ordinary people and away from elites. The winners narrowly beat Leighton Park School, who passionately argued that populism uses simplistic and divisive rhetoric. In one memorable moment, a student from Leighton Park argued that, even though they were a Brexiteer, they believed the populism of many Brexit voters had to be challenged.

The winning team from Sir Henry Floyd Grammar School

The day, hosted at the historic Oxford Union, formed part of the prestigious Oxford Festival of the Arts. Uniquely for this event, the schools competition final was followed by a public panel discussion open to all members of the public. In this discussion, a panel of leading thinkers – aided by one student from Magdalen College School’s Debating Matters team – discussed ‘From sexting to screen addicts: should we be afraid of online harms?

At this panel discussion, Jess Butcher MBE, the technology entrepreneur, Victoria Nash, deputy director of the Oxford Internet Institute, and Martyn Perks, a digital business consultant, were joined by Jamie Shephard from Magdalen College School and a large public audience to thrash out the fears, risks and opportunities that surround the internet age. While no definitive answers were reached, the audience certainly created a lively discussion that enriched everyone’s understanding of the difficult issues at play.

Panelists answering audience questions at the debate ‘From sexting to screen-addicts: should we be afraid of online harms?’

Earlier in the day, students tackled topics such as ‘Western museums should repatriate cultural artefacts’ 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, Leighton Park School

The judges awarded Tom Powell of John Hampden Grammar School the prize of ‘Best Individual’ for his excellent questions and impassioned speaking, with Keely Brown of Sir Henry Floyd Grammar School and Ellie Adams of Queen Mary’s College picking up the ‘Highly Commended’ and ‘Commended’ titles respectively.

Tom Powell of John Hampden Grammar School, receiving the Best Individual prize from Andrew Leslau

A special thanks to Molly Barlow, Andrew Leslau, Simon Hargraves, and Charlesworth Financial Planning without whom this event would not have been possible.

NOTES FOR EDITORS

  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:
    • Cirencester College
    • John Hampden Grammar School
    • Leighton Park School
    • Magdalen College School
    • Queen Mary’s College
    • Sir Henry Floyd Grammar School
    • St Edward’s School, Oxford
    • Waddesdon Church of England 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