Tuesday 7th December 2021
Very excitingly, this week saw what is hoped to be the first of many debating competitions take place between the schools in the Emmaus Catholic Schools’ Partnership. The event, which was organised and hosted by The Cardinal Wiseman School, pitted Key Stage Five students from each of the four schools against each other in a battle of ideas.
Two students from each school made up each debating team which in turn took part in qualifying rounds, with the successful teams going head to head in the final.
The first qualifying debate saw St Augustine’s school take on The Cardinal Wiseman school over the issue of climate change – specifically, whether we should limit the number of children we have in an attempt to offset our carbon footprint. After a lively and passionate debate, which covered issues ranging from women’s rights to our shared duty as stewards of the earth, St Augustine’s passionate and well informed debaters came out on top, making it through to the final.
The second qualifying debate was between Sacred Heart High School and St Benedict’s School. This debate centred around the very topical issue of whether Britain should pay reparations for its colonial past. What ensued was a debate which the judges felt not only handled the issue respectfully and intelligently, but which was rooted on both sides in a commitment to a more equal global future. Putting forward an argument for more practical and less paternalistic solutions to the geo-political issues arising from the legacy of empire, Sacred Heart High school also made it through to the final round.
Both teams were subsequently given 15 minutes (without the use of the internet!) to prepare to debate whether social media companies should remove posts containing ‘fake news’ from their sites. What followed was a wide ranging debate about issues including radicalisation, the problematic nature of algorithms, freedom of speech and the nature of truth itself. Both teams performed excellently and showed an impressive prior knowledge of the issues at hand. However, the Sacred Heard debater’s articulate delivery and proposal of well thought out solutions to the issue of ‘fake news’ meant they won the day, and the trophy!
After an intellectually stimulating evening, staff and students from each school commented on how happy they were to be taking part in debating events again, which have of course been put on hold during the pandemic. Indeed, the teachers acknowledged how well students did given that opportunities for public speaking have been few and far between over the last two years. They also agreed how proud they were of the clear moral compass which guided the arguments of all of the debaters, irrespective of the side of the argument they had been assigned.
A heartfelt thank you to all the staff and students involved, and a big well done to our winners!
We are very much looking forward to the next Emmaus debating competition, which is set to be for Key Stage Four students and take place in the new year.