Oxford Schools’ Debating Competition

As the largest British Parliamentary schools’ debate competition in the UK, the Oxford Schools’ Debating Competition is aimed for keen students aged 14-18. Contentious motions are expected to be given to the students where there is only 15 minutes preparation, with no access to the Internet or help from external parties. Students then utilise this time to structure their arguments in a cohesive manner to formulate a well-reasoned speech- clever use of word play can often come to be helpful in terms of gaining points.

Concord sent two teams, each with two members, into the competition on the 9th of February. Given the current lockdown measures, this year’s Oxford Schools was held remotely via Zoom where the teams would then be allocated a dedicated breakout room with an experienced judge. It was initially a daunting prospect, the idea that you had to speak outrightly to complete strangers, with no easy method to gauge the facial expressions/emotions of others. Nonetheless, the competition went smoothly – where there were two debates. The motions were followed as such:

  1. This House Opposes banning controversial famous figures from social media platforms
  2. This House Regrets the glamorisation of start-up culture that encourages people to start their own companies rather than pursue traditional career paths

On a personal level, I enjoyed thinking of arguments with my partner and although the debate was virtually staged, we communicated our ideas to each other effectively. Asking the relevant POIs, giving out clear rebuttals are all key to secure a good score in the eyes of the judges. The judges from Oxford were very constructive and critical when it came to their feedback, giving us invaluable tips that are not explicitly taught formally. They were well aware that, for many competitors, it was their first time debating. It was genuinely a fun, intellectually stimulating, experience despite not being able to visit the prestigious Oxford Union at the university as it should be during a normal year.

Lastly, a deep congratulations to Rachel and Ethan from 6.1 who managed to bring Concord forwards into the Nationals on the 13th of March.

Brandon – 6.1