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Students from Haygrove School took part in the prestigious Oxford Schools’ debating competition which was held at Kings’ College, Taunton in January. Haygrove was the only state-maintained school at the event which hosted teams of aspiring politicians aged 14 – 18 from across the South West of England.
The eight Bridgwater students needed to have their wits about them because they were only told the theme of each debate, and the side they were to represent, 15 minutes before they had to enter their allocated ‘debating chamber’ in pairs and face their opponents. The first question to be considered was ‘This House would make it compulsory to vote in all elections and referenda’, which was furiously debated by both the ‘government’ and ‘opposition’ speakers from the assembled schools. With only a short break to recover from the first session, the four Haygrove pairs were then challenged to swiftly create their arguments around the statement, “This House would ban religious schools.”
“Taking part in the Oxford Union debate was a massive challenge! It was pretty terrifying to turn up at Kings College and see so many other school teams there from the South West, but I think we did well and we all feel hugely proud of what we achieved. I feel my confidence has grown enormously and my understanding of public speaking has greatly improved,” said student Holly.
The Oxford Schools’ debating competition is organised by the Oxford Union whose membership is drawn from the University of Oxford; many of whom were present on the evening to moderate and feedback on each debate. The Oxford Union has a long tradition of hosting some of the world’s most prominent individuals including US Presidents, British Prime Ministers, the Dalai Lama and Mother Teresa.