Watford Inter-school Debating Competition 2013
On Tuesday 17th December, 07:30 a.m. sharp, the Debating Team consisting of Alex Hirsh (Year 13), Kevin Tailor, Elodie Mayo, Cyntheiah Siva, Cherry Hla, Thomas Jarvis, Dylan Kelly (Year 11) and Sainka Shah (Year 10), arrived at Stanmore Station to catch the train to Westminster and the House of Commons for the regional Debating Matters Competition event.
It was a forty minute journey to Westminster and on arrival we visited the sites of Big Ben, at the north end of the Palace of Westminster and Westminster Abbey, to the west of the Palace of Westminster.
At 09:30 a.m., we entered the Houses of Parliament after passing through metal detectors and having our possessions scanned. Fifteen minutes later, we went inside one of the public bill committee rooms where Conservative and Labour members debate on the subject of proposed Acts of Parliament. We were welcomed by the host of the competition, Richard Harrington, the MP of Watford who had organised this event. He chatted to us and alleviated our fears. We were ready for the competition.
At 10.15 am, the first round commenced. ‘Funding for the Arts is an unaffordable luxury in today’s fiscally constrained times’ proposed by Bushey Meads School and opposed by Watford Boys School. Chairing the debate was Paul Uppal, MP of Wolverhampton South West. Alex Hirsh and Kevin Tailor gave authoritative, ardent arguments, stating that the government must prioritise and focus on more important issues such as hospitals and education, and that art businesses should be more financially dependent. Watford Boys said that art should be funded equally with science, and art has many economic and cultural benefits.
The three judges came to a conclusion which exceeded our expectations; we made it to the semi-final and were to debate against Queens School, the winners of last year’s competition.
After a twenty minute break, we watched Westfield and Bushey Academy debate on the topic ‘There is no justification for animal experimentation’ which Bushey Academy won. They too were through to the semi final.
At 11:35, the second round began between Bushey Meads and Queens on the issue: International aid holds back the developing world. Speaking first, Queens said that aid causes dependency, breeds corruption and trade is the solution, bringing up facts, statistics, and case studies from Pakistan and Africa to support their statement. Bushey Meads speakers, Dylan Kelly and Sainka Shah opposed the motion, arguing that developing countries need aid to trade and aid does not have to be in the form of money but could involve sending skilled workers to educate locals people and put them on the path to sustainability.
There were many questions posed by the audience and emotions ran high. After a long deliberation, the judges found in favour of Queens but commented that our two speakers had presented well. We were proud of our efforts and that we had made it to the semi final.
The final was between Queens and Parmiters. Britain must ban the burqa, This is a very emotional debate but Queens held their ground and won the motion.
Overall, the competition was a great and exciting experience and we would thank Mrs Pinkus, Mrs Lawrence and Miss Bailey for their coaching and help, and the kindness of the members of Parliament for their support on the day. This coming year we hope to have more members in our school debating society and to enter this competition once again.
By Cherry Hla, 11KF