Trent College’s reputation as a formidable force in school debating received regional recognition last week when members of the Junior Debating team Devindi (Year 10) and Savannah (Year 9) won the Solihull School’s U16 Midlands Debating Competition.
The duo beat around 30 teams from schools across the Midlands to win the competition. Devindi’s impressive performance also earned her the coveted ‘Best Speaker’ award.
The competition marked a triumphant end to the Junior Debating team’s inaugural year in the challenging world of competitive debating. The team on the day consisted of eight pupils, all girls, proving yet again that Trent girls can (and do!) as three out of four pairs secured a place in the competition’s top 10.
The Junior Debating Club was founded last year on the popularity and success of Trent’s Senior Debating Society. Seeing our senior debaters compete in competitions across the country inspired younger pupils to get involved and a passion for debating has been growing within the school community ever since.
The Junior and Senior Debating Clubs meet weekly to debate a number of topics. Regular collaborative meetings between the two teams provide opportunity for junior debaters to receive feedback as they progress and for senior pupils to share their experience with their younger counterparts.
Meeting motions cover a variety of environmental, political and cultural issues and contemporary choices of topic ensure that pupils debate the issues that matter to them. Popular recent debates have included:
- This House regrets the actions of protest group Extinction Rebellion
- This House regrets the state visit of Donald Trump
- This House would ban reality TV in light of the recent controversy surrounding The Jeremy Kyle Show
The Junior Debating team is led and mentored by Trent’s Director of Academic Excellence, Dr Helen Johnson. A graduate of Oxford University, Dr Johnson knows exactly what it takes to become a successful debater. She says, “It is fantastic to see our junior debaters performing at such a high level. They debated a variety of issues with only 15 minutes prep time for each round. The skills this develops are invaluable and their success in the competition is a very promising sign for the future of Trent Debating and academic excellence.”
21st Century Debating
Debating may be rooted in tradition, but it remains as relevant as ever to young people.
Getting involved in debating encourages pupils to develop well-informed opinions and avoid snap judgements. To win debates, a debater must carefully consider both sides of any argument, not just the side they are arguing in favour of, in order to anticipate and counteract points made by the opposition.
Through debating, essential skills are nurtured. Pupils grow in confidence as they develop strong public speaking skills. Central to successful debating is the skill of researching a topic effectively, a strength that will prove invaluable to debaters with future plans for university. These skills, along with critical and creative thinking and empathy, are just a few of the positive attributes that pupils acquire through debating.