The North Swindon MP acted as the judge for the annual inter-school debating competition last week which was held at St. Francis Primary School, the winners of last year’s competition.
The primary schools taking part included St. Francis, Haydonleigh, Red Oaks, Brookfield, Oakhurst and Oliver Tomkins. Each school had a team in which every member had a specific duty. Two members would do the presentation and put forward their best case for the point that they were arguing. The other members were tasked with quizzing the other schools on their presentations, including picking holes in their argument.
A range of topical and sometimes controversial issues were discussed, including animal testing, gender equality and the health of today’s children compared with previous generations. Haydonleigh, who went on to win the competition, put forward the case that Howard Carter, the English archaeologist who discovered the remains of Tutankhamun, had made a truly special historical discovery which he should be praised for rather than accused of being a grave robber.
Justin said: “I was really impressed by the quality of both the public speaking and debating skills that each of the pupils demonstrated. The issues discussed were very topical and broad ranging. Each team put forward their case in an eloquent and professional manner – there were certainly a number of lessons that many of my colleagues in Parliament could have learnt from! It was a really tough decision to pick the winner, but in the end I decided that Haydonleigh had done a lot of historical research to put forward a strong presentation.
“They also covered a topic which has courted a significant amount of controversy for hundreds of years so they made sure that their points were watertight and put forward with confidence. All in all, the competition is a fantastic initiative to encourage children of primary school age to engage in debate and get involved with discussions over the issues that impact on society. It also teaches crucial life lessons, particularly the importance of respecting the individual views of everybody.”
Harrison Davies aged 11, is a pupil at St Francis and was a part of last year’s winning team. He personally invited Justin to judge this year’s competition. He said: “The competition is really enjoyable and takes a lot of time for each school to prepare. We all sit around to discuss which topic is important to us before deciding what to do in our presentations. We then get to talk about the other topics from the other schools so that we can challenge them at the competition. Everybody gets on very well on the day and everyone really enjoys listening to everybody’s points.”