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Clapton Girls School, from the London borough of Hackney, have won this year’s London Debate Challenge.
The competition final, held on Friday 1 July at Central Hall, Westminster, saw 24 London boroughs being represented, and over 100 school pupils taking part over the day. Each team competed in three preliminary rounds, debating topics from abolishing private education, to equality in the wages of sportsmen and women.
The four highest scoring teams from the first three rounds then took part in two final debates in the packed lecture hall, with the motions This House Would allow students to skip school to go on political protests, and This House Would introduce compulsory random drug testing in all schools, proving to be electric topics, debated passionately by the four finalists from Hackney, Lambeth, Westminster and Bromley. The 150 strong audience members were active participants in both debates, with two pupils chosen to chair the proceedings, and competitors being given the opportunity to provide impassioned floor speeches.
The judges commended all the teams on their analytical skills, coming up with such well-rounded arguments after such short preparation time. It was down to the quick thinking of Najma Ahmed, Rommana Delair, and Jamiah Okoye of Clapton Girls School, and their ability to not only formulate their own arguments, but defend them so well against the scrutiny of the opposition that led them to victory.
The London Debate Challenge 2011 was the culmination of competitions started by borough coordinators and conveners in schools and LEAs beating the budget cuts to create a lively squad in each school to take part in rounds against other local schools. Close to 200 schools took part in the borough competitions, with those competing on finals day already winners, having proven themselves the best debate teams in state schools across London.
This was the 10th year of The London Debate Challenge, the ESU’s flagship outreach programme. Over the academic year, we work with students from Years 7-10 in the state secondary schools in London. The programme works with schools that are entirely new to debating or who have been taking part in competitions in recent years.
The London Debate Challenge continues to be a celebration of the achievements of the students, and a development opportunity for those who wish to continue to debate competitively.