debaters into next round of Schools’ Mace Competition

Friday December 1, 2017

Concord’s senior debating team has beaten last year’s regional final winners in the Schools’ Mace, the oldest and largest debating competition for schools in the country. And for Ava Henman and Thomas Van Dongen, the first round victory over King Edward V1, Fiveways, Birmingham, was all the more sweet because it was ‘away from home’ - at their opposing team’s school. It was the first time that Ava, who is president of the Concord College Speaking Society, and Thomas have competed in the Schools’ Mace. They are now through to the second round of the competition which will take place in January. Ava, who is in her fourth year at Concord, is studying economics, Spanish, English and maths at A level, whilst Thomas, who is in his third year, is taking maths, further maths, physics and chemistry at A Level. The pair had only a fortnight to prepare for their first round motion, ‘This house would add e-Sports to the Olympic Games,’ which they opposed, and in the build-up were strongly assisted by Concord’s ‘shadow’ public speaking team of Nada Hamman and Brandon Tang. Nada is in her fourth year at Concord where she is studying maths, biology, chemistry and English at A level.  Brandon joined Concord in the sixth form and is taking maths, further maths, English and economics at A level. Mentor Mrs Robyn Williamson, who teaches English, praised the support that Nada and Brandon had provided for Ava and Thomas. “It is a tough public speaking competition and so it was most beneficial for Ava and Thomas that they had Nada and Brandon with whom to research the subject as well as bounce ideas off each other. “The behind-the-scenes preparation made all the difference to Ava and Thomas’s performance.” Said Thomas:  “As part of our practice for the first round competition, Ava and I had a mock debate with Nada and Brandon who provided the proposition which included all the points we felt our first round opponents might come up with. “At the same time, it gave us the opportunity to think of problems we could present to them and I think our research and practice paid dividends.  The King Edward V1 team were very competitive and I felt it was an extremely close debate. “We were proud of our performance and we are now feeling very hopeful of making further progress,” he added.