The Concord Lower School debating team – the first in its history - is through to the national finals of the biggest debating competition in the UK. The Concord team of Tom Van Dongen and Ava Henman who are both day students in Form 5, were one of only eight teams out of 54 to win the regional round of the Oxford Schools' Debating Competition.
Commonly known as Oxford Schools', the Oxford Union Society’s annual schools’ competition is the largest British Parliamentary school-level debating competition in the world.
Over one thousand students are invited to participate every year and the competition offers what the organisers describe as an ‘excellent chance to develop their skills and confidence in public speaking, thoughtful argumentation and analytical problem solving.’
The Concord team of Tom and Ava were competing against strong competitors from across theWest Midlands. Each team performed in two debates on the motions ‘This house would ban state workers (for example the NHS) from striking’ and ‘This house would only give international development aid to countries with free and fair elections.’
They were given only 15 minutes to prepare before debating on the topics and were not allowed to use any electronic devices, sources of the internet or teacher or peer help.
Said Phil Woods,Concord’s Head of English: “Both Tom and Ava are new to debating, only taking this up last September.
“This was their first major competition and they were up against schools with sixth formers and hugely experienced competitors. This was a fantastic result and I am delighted for them.”
It is the first year that Concord has had a Lower School debating team and they now go forward to finals day on March 11 at the historic Oxford Union where around 100 of the best teams from the UK, Ireland and international rounds compete for the title.