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Another Jam-packed Term in the BMS Debating Society

Another Jam-packed Term in the BMS Debating Society

Kashan Malik
Kashan Malik
Another Jam-packed Term in the BMS Debating...

It is has been a very eventful term for the Debating Society at Bushey Meads School.

On Friday 23 February, thirteen students from across year groups headed for the Houses of Parliament to represent our school in the Watford inter-school debating competition, hosted by Watford MP Richard Harrington. Aaron (Year 13) and Nathaniel (Year 12), participated in the first round of the competition, debating against the motion that university tuition fees should be scrapped.

Members of the Debating Society standing by Westminster Hall

The debate was of very high quality, with constructive arguments on why we should retain tuition fees. Unfortunately though, the panel of judges (which included the associate editor of The Times newspaper, Lord Daniel Finkelstein) decided that Queens’ had a slight edge over us on this occasion. We were knocked out of the competition. Nonetheless, we are very proud of both Nathaniel and Aaron for their valour.

We were still able to listen to debates being presented by other schools, which included topics such as whether climate change is manmade, whether US President Donald Trump should be afforded a state visit to the UK, and whether there should be censorship of social media sites. Many congratulations to Queens’, who emerged victorious in the final. Despite our defeat, the trip was a great day out, especially for students for whom the trip was their first time visiting Parliament. Thanks to Mr Newbold for taking us.

BMS and Queens’ debaters with Oliver Dowden MP
|Louis and Nigel, Year 12, with 17th century MP John Hampton

Over this last term we organised a number of our debates. These included a debate between Simran (Year 9) and Jhanavi (Year 8) on the Trump presidency, a debate between Noah (Year 8) and Victoria (Year 12) on whether the UK national anthem should be sung in school assemblies, and a debate between Megan (Year 8) and Nathaniel (Year 12) on whether the age of consent in the UK should be lowered to 15. Aaron, Year 13, says: “It has been enjoyable debating about actual important issues”.

Simran (Year 9) up against Jhanavi (Year 8

It is clear that with each new debate, the debating skills of students improve, with increased focus and discipline in their presentation. Additionally, I am pleased to report that turnout at these debates has risen sharply this term, particularly among sixth form students, who have massively contributed by critically challenging and questioning the debaters on the topics.

In addition to debates, I arranged debating activities aimed to improve debating skills. One such activity that proved very popular this term was one in which students randomly chose a debate title, and then have to defend or oppose the motion they have chosen. After picking the statement “The UK should abolish the monarchy”, Amira (Year 13) argued in favour of the motion, saying that the monarchy lacks relevance in the UK today.

Other debates included in this activity were “Shakespeare should not be part of the English curriculum”, “Christmas should be purely about celebrating the birth of Jesus”, and “After Brexit, the UK should continue to have free movement of people from the EU”. This activity was highly effective in improving debating skills, because participants were forced to ‘think on their feet’, having to construct their argument and respond to challenges without preparation. Louis (Year 12) found the activity particularly helpful. He said it helped “improve [his] listening and communication skills”.

As we begin the summer term, the Debating Society will continue to hold debates which I hope will attract even larger audiences. Would you be interested in joining the debating society? If so, email me at [email protected] for more information.

Leon Hirsh (Year 12)

Leader, Bushey Meads School Debating Society

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