Cirencester Sixth Form College’s Debating Society have been confirmed as one of the best in the country after participating in the National Finals of the Debating Matters competition. 270 colleges, private schools and grammar schools entered the competition back in September and Cirencester finished joint 5th overall to the delight of students and teachers.
The event was held at the Museum of London with debates taking place over the course of two days. First up for Cirencester were Annabel Hill and Lydia Zioupos who debated for the motion, ‘We should accept the risk inherent in contact sports’ against the Royal School, Armagh. The judging panel concluded that Annabel and Lydia had won the debate. They formulated a well delivered presentation, worked extremely well together, and were very passionate on the subject when articulating responses to questions from the judging panel and audience.
It was then the turn of Thomas Schaffner and Torin Brown, arguing against the motion ‘Autonomous vehicles will make driving safer’. They were up against the highly experienced Queen Elizabeth’s Grammar School who argued for the motion. This was said to be the closest competed debate of the entire National Final with the audience split 50/50 on who they believed had won. The judging panel made similar comments but eventually gave the win to Queens Elizabeth’s.
With the debating concluded, Cirencester students were gracious in defeat and congratulated their opponents on a fantastic and highly spirited discussion. Teachers Daniel Nield and Sara Jennings are immensely proud of them, but believe there is something more significant that the students have learnt.
Daniel said that ‘the students have done phenomenally well and we are so proud of them. Not only are they brilliant at debating, but they have shown us what unbelievably kind and genuine individuals they are. This weekend has given them the opportunity to network with professionals, discuss contemporary issues with others in their peer group from up and down the country and support each other in all areas, showing that they are a real team.’
Sara added, ‘Watching students in discussion with influential panel members and judges during the social events following debates this weekend, I have been impressed with their growth in confidence and growing ability to listen and respond seriously to challenging questions. This has been one of the aims of Cirencester College Debating Society from the beginning and the Debating Matters event has given our students an excellent opportunity to test out their skills. We are tremendously proud of their achievements in the debates, and even more so of the interesting and engaged young people that we have seen emerge.’
The students that have been involved in debating at the college have shown tremendous enthusiasm for this activity and had these words to say:
Annabel Hill: ‘This weekend was a fantastic experience, both intellectually stimulating, and incredibly inspirational. Involvement in the Debating Society and in the competition itself has really helped me grow as person; my confidence, powers of reasoning, quick thinking, research skills, and public speaking have all developed as a result. It was also an excellent opportunity for networking, I had the chance to speak to many highly accomplished individuals such as Lord Clement-Jones, who gave me advice on the ins and outs of a legal career. I can’t wait for next year, which hopefully will bring the same standard of fierce competition and educational value.’
Torin Brown: ‘Getting through to the National Finals of Debating Matters was the most fantastic way to end my time at Cirencester. Not only did I have an amazing time competing in the competition throughout this year, but this weekend introduced me to so many new opinions, people, and ways of thinking that I definitely consider myself much more ready for the real world.’
Tapiwa Kachika: ‘The atmosphere at the Debating Matters National Competition was simply incredible. We were exposed to such a variety of people and consequently a diversity of interests, beliefs and beautiful accents. Undoubtedly, Cirencester College Debating Society and the Debating Matters competition were unforgettable experiences where I met extraordinary people, was challenged and inspired.’
Thomas Schaffner: ‘I had an immensely enjoyable weekend at the Debating Matters National Final. For the second year students especially, it served as a fitting conclusion to what has been two wonderful years at Cirencester College.’
Georgia Morgan: ‘Taking part was a really exciting and topical experience. Though speaking has never been my strongest asset, my teammates and teachers have helped me to develop my skills in relevant, effective research. This has had a very positive effect on my confidence and therefore ability to speak publicly.’
Sophie Ashman: ‘Joining the Debating Society was definitely the best decision that I’ve made this year and I do not regret it one bit. I’ve learnt so many skills that I wouldn’t have had otherwise and I’ve made friends with people that I wouldn’t have spoken to. I cannot wait to continue with it next year.’
Karrie Mead: ‘This weekend has been extremely inspirational and stimulating, we were given the opportunity not only to debate but also to meet some very intelligent people, including both academics and other students – and this meant the debates could carry on outside of the competition itself as everyone had a genuine interest in everyone else’s opinion and views. The Debating Society at Cirencester College as a whole, has improved my confidence, my initiative and has given me insight to real world problems that are controversial but need solving – skills that I hope I will continue to expand and improve on in my everyday life.’
Jim Grant, Cirencester College Principal said ‘we are so proud of Dan, Sara and their students for this achievement. Our debaters have never progressed beyond the Regional Finals before so becoming Regional Champions and then finishing in the top five nationally is unprecedented. This has been a great experience for all those involved and students have developed skills and confidence which will be useful whatever path they take next. Dan and Sara have come back with lots of ideas to develop debating at the College and we look forward to the next adventure.’
Many congratulations to all those involved in the Debating Society at Cirencester Sixth Form College:
Debaters – Torin Brown, Brad Frankham, Annabel Hill, Karrie Mead, Thomas Schaffner, and Lydia Zioupos.
Researchers: Sophie Ashman, Caroline Brodersen, Tapiwa Kachika, Alirio McCalla, Georgia Morgan and Beth Smith.