Standard of Debating “Extremely High”

Last week four A Level debaters took part in the first round of the Cambridge Union Debating competition, run by student debaters from Cambridge University.


The competition, held at the Richard Huish College in Taunton, involved 12 teams from six different schools and colleges from the private and state sector. It used the British Parliamentary format of debating, in which four pairs of speakers argue a topic using alternating five minute speeches. Opposition speakers can offer points of information during the speeches.


Iain MacDonald, Teacher of English, said: “It is a tense and rather combative style of debate, but the standard of debating from our students was extremely high.”


Each team took part in two debates – one they had a chance to prepare in advance, and one for which they had only fifteen minutes’ preparation time. The advanced prep motion was “This house believes that the state should pay housewives and househusbands a salary”. N. Gigani and M. Hodges had to oppose this motion, while O. Holdsworth and J. Harvey found themselves proposing, in a separate group.


The short preparation motions were different: “This house would require politicians and government employees to use state services”. N. Gigani and M. Hodges had to propose, and O. Holdsworth and J. Harvey oppose.


N. Gigani and M. Hodges won their group and now go into the next round, while O. Holdsworth and J. Harvey spoke extremely well but were narrowly beaten by a strong and much more experienced Richard Huish team. If the girls are successful in the next round, they will go on to the finals in the Cambridge Union debating Chamber in Cambridge.


Mr MacDonald continued: “Our debaters were relatively inexperienced in this style of debating – I’m delighted with the way our teams performed, and very pleased to have a presence in the next round.”