King’s Lynn school takes national title in prestigious debating contest
A group of Lynn students have taken a national title for their debating skills in a debut appearance.
Four Springwood High School sixth formers had to debate the issue of free speech in universities to take the title and the full story is below.
They battled through two rounds before reaching the final of the Debating Matters Public Policy Championship, where they had to debate the issue of free speech in universities against a Welsh school.
One of the team, Zara Bek, was crowned the ‘Best Individual’ of the July competition, which was held online this year.
The winning team also included Jake Parish, Katie Smith and Asha Rice.
Deputy headteacher Jamie Warner-Lynn said: “This is a prestigious debate and the judges are often prominent in journalism, or business,”
“Crucially, the format differs from any other debate in as much as the judges really probe the participants' understanding, asking very difficult questions.This is not about rhetorical flourishes; it is about mastery of your brief and mental agility.”
Zara put the team’s success down to working together. She said: “What helped the most was definitely teamwork and the ability to cooperate as a group rather than acting in separate ways. It brought a lot of cohesion to our arguments.”
Fellow team member Katie, who had an ‘honourable mention,’ said: "The judges commented on the group’s teamwork and I am proud of the success of Springwood, a member of the West Norfolk Academies Trust.
“Due to the fact we weren’t allowed to choose the motion or whether we were for or against, I know that I had to debate against my own personal beliefs. This was certainly challenging, but meant that I had to really re-educate myself and research thoroughly to create a convincing, strong argument.”
“It really was our teamwork, as identified by the judges, that set us apart from the other teams. We all worked extremely well together."
The first round saw the team members speaking against the motion that tech companies should act to stop online misinformation. The second round saw the Springwood students speak in support of the motion that universal basic income is not a solution to social and economic problems and they were against Cirencester College in both rounds.
The final debate had the West Norfolk school team support the motion that he government should impose a duty of support for free speech in universities while a Cardiff school, Ysgol Gyfun Plasmawr, was against the motion.
One of the three judges was Dr Piers Benn, a prominent philosophy lecturer and author who has appeared on BBC Radio 4’s Moral Maze along with Channel Four and Sky News.
Aside from taking the title, the school also received £500 in books as the prize.