The Perse School

Pupils win debating competition against Heritage School

23 Jun 2017

Kirill Nezhentsev (Year 10) reflects on the The Perse School’s recent debating competition win against Heritage School:

It is often said that debating is one of the more challenging aspects of English. The need to express oneself eloquently and yet persuasively, to condense complex ideas into concise paragraphs and to think on one’s feet, ready to challenge another’s points, are certainly skills that require practice. It is for that reason that, on Monday 19 June, the Perse held a contest against Heritage School.

For much of our ten-person-team this was their first experience of an official competition, a chance to try out what they had learnt in The Forum. I was therefore repeatedly telling the team that this was, above all, a ‘learning experience’, though of course the real plan was to win, and win well.

The actual speeches went superbly. With each team of two person presenting for 18 minutes between them while their points were rebutted by the other pair. Notable moments include, among others, Benedict Meissner’s impassioned rhetoric on Syria, a ruthless set of rebuttals from Nicholas Romanos and a sterling performance by Ben Abbott, who, concluding his speech on Scottish independence, illustrated the weakness vs the strength of unity through snapping a pencil, then failing to break an entire set of stationery.

Heritage were worthy adversaries and, as the scores were announced, it was anybody’s game. But in the end the judges awarded the Perse victory in all debates, though the margins were tight. Speaking to the team afterwards it was great to hear how much they had learnt from the experience, so much so that they would like to continue learning more about competitive debating in preparation for a host of tournaments next year.

On behalf of the team I’d like to thank Mr Green, for helping to organise the competition, Heritage, for providing us with such a lively and enjoyable competition and particularly to the judges, all five of whom were lawyers, and who kindly spent their afternoons on a 32-degree day giving us their expert opinions and advice.

This has been a hugely rewarding experience, and I hope that we can expand this competition further, to include more teams and feature more schools in the years to come.


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