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Posted on 11 Jan 2024

'The power of extra-curricular clubs': Debate Club goes from strength to strength

Since starting the WA Debate Club just over a year ago I have seen the students' abilities grow exponentially and it seemed the natural next step to enter a competition to test our skills. 

The English Speaking Union (ESU) Schools Mace debating competition is a national debate competition for 14-18 year old school children and is considered one of the most prestigious events in the school debating calendar. We entered a WA team composed of Arthur (Y10), Bede (Y10) and Asha (Y9) and had our first heat online over Zoom in the evening after school. Several other students from our club had stayed as well to support our team and enjoy watching the other two debates in the heat. In our debate we were assigned to be the proposition, supporting the motion 'This house believes that cases should be broadcast in the British justice system' and competed against a team of Year 13s from the independent The American School.

Asha and Bede had prepared excellent first and second speeches focussing on the important legal principle of 'open justice', the potential for public education and encouraging further victims coming forward and the efficiency of cameras in scrutinising court misconduct. 

Asha especially made me proud when I thought back to the first time she came to the club and was reluctant to speak publicly at all. Watching her now elegantly delivering a formal speech in a high-stakes national competition heat confirmed my belief in the power of extra curricular clubs to develop students' abilities and confidence.

Arthur had the difficult role of Summary speaker which required more 'thinking on your feet' and extensive rebuttals to the opposition team speeches. He efficiently dismantled his opponents’ points and identified the weaknesses of their speeches whilst defending the previous proposition speeches. 

Whilst we did not get through to the second round the students did themselves proud against an extremely experienced and older opposition. The student feedback for the event (and the refreshments!) was exceptionally positive and we look forward to entering more competitions as we continue our debating journey.

WA Debate Club sessions:

All year groups, Room 203, Thursdays 3.30pm - 4.30pm

Y7-9, Room 203, Fridays 1.25pm - 2pm

Y10-13, Room 205, Fridays 1.25pm - 2pm

By Mr Law Smith, Teacher of Citizenship

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