Trent Debating Society meets on a weekly basis and allows students to discuss a wide range of topical issues. This year, they have ranged from the storming of the Capitol Building to medical ethics in a Covid world. Unbeaten by the pandemic, over a hundred students across the school have taken part in a ‘bubbled’ debating structure this year, a clear sign that Trent Debating is going from strength to strength.
The Junior Debating Club was founded in 2018 on the popularity and success of Trent’s Senior Debating Society. It has grown exponentially in success and popularity since its founding three years ago. Whilst the pandemic has created a barrier to students attending debating competitions face to face, participation has been at a record high from students in Year Seven to Year Nine. Trent Junior Debating Club now regularly sees attendance of over seventy-five students from Lower School.
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 Junior debates have included:
- This house would make a vegan diet mandatory for all.
- This house would decide teacher pay based on student reviews.
- This house regrets the rise of YouTube and influencer culture.
- This house, as the United Nations, would intervene in Myanmar.
The Debating Society has experienced its busiest year so far, with online debating providing the opportunity to compete in more competitions than ever. The year began with a hugely successful performance at the Birmingham University debating competition. Isabelle (Year 12) and Alice (Year 13) reached the silver final, and Savannah (Year 11) and Satia (Year 9) competed as bronze finalists.
Students have also debated in competitions led by the London School of Economics, Nottingham, Imperial, Oxford, Cambridge and Warwick Universities. This has meant some of our youngest pupils, even in Year Seven, have been debating against top quality Sixth Form debaters from across the country.
The highlight of the competitive year was at the Oxford and Cambridge competitions. 2020-21 Captain, Jack completed his school’s debating career with phenomenal success, reaching the finals of both competitions. He competed at the Oxford finals day alongside Josh (also Year 13) and at Cambridge with Devindi (Year 12). Both events were more international than ever in their nature, given they were online, allowing schools from as far afield as Hong Kong and Canada to take part. At the end of this academic year, Jack is hoping to take up his offer at Oxford to study Law. As he moves on, we are pleased to announce that his role will be passed on to Devindi who said:
“I’m excited to continue on Jack’s great work with both junior and senior debaters, and hope to help the Trent Debating Society branch into different areas of debating while remaining competitive and fun. The skills that students gain from debating are incredibly important, and I am keen to instil a passion for debating among my younger peers.”
We wish her the best of luck for the year ahead (and hopefully some ‘live’ competition).
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. Regular collaborative meetings between the two teams allow Junior debaters to receive feedback as they progress and Senior pupils share their experience with their younger counterparts.
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.