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TGS debaters take part in the national final of the Cambridge Union Schools’ Debating Competition

Four of TGS Debating Society’s speakers took part in the national final of the competition, one of the largest school debating competitions in the world.

Merry (Y11), Bella (Y12), Beth and Talia (both Y13) earned their place as two of six teams to qualify from the South East Region last November. They had been training twice weekly with their TGS Debating Society peers.

The team met first thing on Sunday morning at the Cambridge Union where they were briefed on debating etiquette and the ‘hybrid’ system which meant that the best teams from around the world could join the debates remotely.

In the British Parliamentary format, debaters are given their motion and position in the debate 15 minutes before the round begins.

The first round was on the motion “This house believes that high school English classes should teach popular contemporary works rather than classics”.  Opposing the motion, Beth and Talia argued that classic literature had a wealth of criticism which students could engage in and that challenging texts encouraged students to pursue English at university.

The second round was on the theme of the environment. The motion was “This house believes that environmentalists should co-operate with corporations instead of actively opposing them”. Bella and Merry made a very compelling case on the financial incentives the motion would provide for companies to adopt green policies.

The first two rounds had seen both teams come against some of the best teams in the country and they held their own admirably.

The third debate read “This house believes that the upcoming Bond film should cast a woman for the character of 007 as opposed to increasing the number of female lead roles around a male 007”. From first proposition, Talia and Beth argued the importance of female role models and the unique power of the Bond franchise. They took first place in a room of four teams.

The final debate the teams took part in was on the motion “This house believes that democratic states should not own or run media organisations”. Both teams engaged in rigorous discussions on the nature of democracy and the power of media monopolies to undermine democratic principles.

When the final results for the debates were revealed, both teams had performed very well against some of the best debaters in the world.

To be able to say that we have debated at the Cambridge Union is truly special and a fitting testament to the hard work the team has directed at preparing for the competition over the last few terms. The opportunity to debate globally significant issues against schools from across the world was immensely rewarding, and we gained valuable insight into the world of competitive debating. I am very grateful to Mr Noel and Mr Harvey for organising the trip and for their unceasing enthusiasm towards debating. TGS now hosts a strong debating community, and although it is my last year at the school, I will leave safe in the knowledge that the skills I have learnt will be invaluable in the future and that the team will go on to great successes.

Beth, year 13