Yesterday, Fulham Boys’ School triumphed over Lambeth’s Dunraven School at the English-Speaking Union’s London Debate Challenge finals day.
The finals, which took place at Dartmouth House on July 3rd, saw schools from across London take part in a day of debating contests.
The students, all aged between 11 and 14, debated a range of topics such as whether smoking and nuclear weapons should be banned, to whether 14-year-olds should be allowed to vote in local elections. Finalists Dunraven School and The Fulham Boys School (team pictured with ESU Director-General, Jane Easton) went on to argue the Grand Final motion: ‘This House would ban transport workers going on strike.’
While London Debate Challenge is a competition, the focus is on teaching oracy – speaking and listening – skills which will be valuable far beyond the contest itself. To this end, the early stages of the competition comprised of teaching workshops and feedback sessions.
The competition, now in its 17th year, was launched to tackle the lack of debating in the comprehensive school system. Working in line with the ESU’s efforts to broaden access to opportunities previously only found in the private school sector, the competition aims to inspire students of all educational backgrounds to discover their voices and to practise debating in a fun and accessible way.
Clare Arnold, a teacher at the runners-up school Dunraven, spoke about how the competition has benefitted her students:
‘Being part of the ESU London Debate Challenge has made our students much more politically aware. They’ve got so involved; the amount of research they’ve done is incredible and the workshops that we had with the ESU prior to the competition greatly advanced their oracy skills. For our school it’s been a fantastic opportunity from beginning to end and I would really recommend that all schools do debating.’
The London Debate Challenge gives Key Stage 3 students from state and maintained schools across the capital the opportunity to develop the skills required for effective debating through a mixture of expert training and competition. Find out more here.