The Debating Society of Cirencester Sixth Form College were crowned Cardiff Champions 2018 last week at the Debating Matters national competition. This is the second successful campaign from the college in two years after winning the Central Regional Final in 2017 and competing in the national finals in London.
Law lecturer Daniel Nield and English lecturer Sara Jennings, took a group of enthusiastic students to Cardiff where the competition was hosted by the Welsh National Opera at the Wales Millennium Centre. Twelve colleges battled it out for glory.
First up for Cirencester were Brad Frankham and Karrie Mead who debated for the motion, ‘Artistic expression should never be censored’. They defeated Queen Elizabeth’s Hospital School who debated against the motion. The judges commented saying that the pair worked extremely well together as a team and were well researched, which enabled them to cope with questions very well.
Brad and Karrie have commented that Cardiff was a really challenging day, with some very tough competition and really incisive questions from the audience on challenging, conceptual topics. In their own words, ‘the Debating Matters competition has definitely been the highlight of our time at Cirencester.’
Annabel Hill and Carys Larwood competed in the second round against Exeter College ‘DebSoc’ with the motion, ‘We should build on the green belt’. The duo debated against the motion and pulled off a resounding victory – judges mentioned that they handled themselves with confidence on a tricky topic, whilst having a clear and concise argument.
Both students agree that Debating has been an enriching part of their College experience. Annabel is, ‘so proud of the team for coming away with the title of champions for the second year in a row. I’m humbled to have been a part of the Cirencester Debating Society’s success’. Carys, who has joined the team for the first time this year, has found that ‘watching the debates and competing in my own debate has been an unforgettable experience.’
With two consecutive wins, Cirencester College made it through to the semi-finals, where they met Truro School. It was the turn of Alirio McCalla and Sophie Ashman to debate against the motion, ‘Social egg freezing empowers women’. A unanimous decision by the judges found that Alirio and Sophie’s arguments were better researched and had greater substance than their competitors. As first-time speakers in the Debating Matters competition, the pair found the experience, ‘extremely interesting and thought-provoking’ and were, ‘proud to have helped the team to win the competition overall.’
The Debating Society of Cirencester College made it through to the final debate against local rivals New College, Swindon. Brad Frankham took on his second debate of the day being paired with Verity Shillabeer and they debated against the motion, ‘Cultural appropriation should be welcomed, not feared’. This was a fierce debate in which the judges acknowledged that both teams had done extraordinarily well and should be proud of what they have achieved. First-time debater, Verity says, ’although out of my comfort-zone, the guidance and support of my colleagues and teachers has made me believe in myself. I’m now lucky enough to have successful experience and new skills to build upon.’
In the end, Cirencester were victorious, winning the Cardiff Championship 2018. However, this was not the end of the awards as Brad was given an ‘honourable mention’ by the individual judges for his debating style, commitment and passion to win. Brad sums up, ‘Debating Matters is an unforgettable experience, and has been fantastic from start to finish over my two years at Cirencester College. I am really grateful to have been given the opportunity.’
Daniel and Sara agree that the Debating Matters competition is an extraordinary opportunity which challenges young minds on contemporary issues in society. The competition not only improves transferable skills such as research, analysis and structured writing, but gives students a voice and respects their views by treating them as adults. We promote these values in our Cirencester Debating Society and are so proud of the achievements of our team. It is a pleasure to nurture and harness their talents.