An outstanding achievement by our Year 10 debating team who showed tremendous fighting spirit in the inaugural Nehru Debating Competition hosted by Harrow School. Ana, Aishani, Shanti and Esha achieved high speaker points throughout the debating rounds – a special mention to Ana who scored a remarkable 258 points to top the leader board defeating schools including Habs Boys, Harrow, Winchester, St Mary’s and St Paul’s.
A fabulous effort by the team in what was a highly competitive field – well done girls!
Here’s what our students had to say…
The prospect of participating in another virtual debating competition really enthralled me. Having been successful in other prestigious competitions in Year 9 and 10, such as the International Competition for Young Debaters hosted by Cambridge Union (ICYD) and the English Speaking Union Public Speaking Competition, I was curious to find out about the newly established Harrow School Debate Competition.
The competition followed the British Parliamentary format, which I was familiar with. This consisted of 4 sets of pairs in the opening government, opening opposition, closing government and closing opposition, for each debate. It involved a whole day of debating of three 15-minute preparation motions, including ‘This House would reduce income tax rates for women, ‘This House believes that victimless crimes should not be prosecuted’ and ‘This house would require all people to work in their countries of origin for a period of time after graduating from university’. We aimed to use our preparation time wisely – come up with three solid arguments and expand on these. While we were primarily judged in our pairs and on the strength and cohesion of our arguments, we were also given individual speaker points. I achieved 247 points, Ana remarkably achieved 258 points and Shanti and Esha both skilfully achieved 230 and 226 points respectively.
Mr Johnston was our key motivator and provided us with brilliant guidance and his tips and tricks for success in debating.
The whole experience was extremely fulfilling and I can certainly say that we all gained a lot of skills knowledge from it. I am looking forward to competing in more debating and public speaking competitions, particularly representing St Helen’s as the main speaker, at the London regional finals of the esteemed ESU-Churchill Public Speaking competition at Dartmouth House.
In a nutshell this amazing opportunity brought excitement to all of us. On the day of the debate, the nerves started to settle in my stomach, but having my partner alongside me really helped to clear my mind and focus on the task at hand.
Being the first speaker in my first public debate was indeed nerve wracking, however after getting into the flow it seemed to be getting easier by our final debate. When hearing the motions, I was completely shocked at the sophisticated topics being discussed, despite that, I was elated to be able to take part in such an event. After every debate, receiving feedback was, I believe, crucial to my progress throughout the debates, eventually leading to being joint first in speaker points.
For me, I found that the virtual debating experience as a whole was really amazing! It was my first ‘formal’ debating competition; I was a bit nervous at the start (especially when I realised the talent of the other people we were competing against). My favourite motion was: ‘This House believes that victimless crimes should not be prosecuted.’ We were debating against the motion, and it was funny to see everyone disagreeing over what a ‘victimless crime’ actually was! It was interesting to hear the differing views across all the debates, and particularly fun to respond to rebuttals, and POIs (points of interjection).
Overall, the experience was very valuable, and I feel that I learnt a lot about debating, which I am looking forward to putting into practice in subsequent debates.
I was very excited to represent the school in the Harrow School Debate Competition. I enjoyed being able to debate against other schools, such as St Paul’s and St Mary’s. The debates were of motions that we had no knowledge of, so this was a completely new challenge for me (my prior experience being that of the first round of the ESU Public Speaking Competition where I knew the motion beforehand).
Out of the three debates, the motion ‘Victimless crimes should not be prosecuted’, which Shanti and I argued against, was the one I found most interesting and therefore spoke most passionately about. I argued that there is no such thing as a victimless crime, and without the fear of being prosecuted, these crimes will in abundance lead to a world where vandalism, trespassing and petty crime is prevalent everywhere. My favourite part about the debates were the POIs, as they provided an opportunity to find loopholes in the other team’s debate and question them. Although answering them was sometimes difficult, they helped to strengthen my speech and ultimately gain more points if answered effectively.
I found it particularly engaging how the scores throughout the day were kept on a website that made it easy for us to access the leader boards, and keep track of our marks and team progress. Overall, I learnt so much about debating (something that I am extremely keen on and always look for opportunities to participate in), whether that be through observing the tactics of the other teams, or by learning how to think fast on my feet – all skills that I will take with me not only into further debating competitions, but my future outside of school as well.