12 Mar 2012: Graveney School triumphs at London & South Regional Final
Tooting Talkers Triumph at Prestigious Debating Competition
Graveney School from Tooting have triumphed at the London and South Regional Final of the Institute of Ideas Debating Matters Competition, supported in the region by the National Institute of Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE). Having won this round they are amongst just eight schools that are now competing for the national tile at the competition’s final in July.
The school team had already proved themselves to be impressive speakers, having won their local qualifying qualifying round in the autumn against three other schools. At the Regional Finals however, the Graveney debaters battled their way through three debates, emerging a regional champion of the competition that has been dubbed ‘the toughest in the UK’. The teenagers proved themselves adept at a format that values substance over style and involves students thinking on their feet as they respond to tough questioning from a panel of three expert judges. With impressive individual performances from all of the team on debates that included “Olympics: the greatest show on earth is worth it” and “We should introduce a system of presumed consent in organ donation” the school managed to secure a place in the final against reigning champions of London and the South Burgate School and Sixth Form Centre, Salisbury.
In the final debate which asked whether social media is rejuvenating politics, the teams appeared to be neck and neck as judges underlined how impressed they were with the strength of arguments. But panel judge, Dr Clare Gerada, Chair of the Royal College of General Practitioners explained: “The winners of the competition were an outstanding team, they not only demonstrated a real depth of knowledge in their subject, but also had the edge with sheer entertainment value. The winners are Graveney School.”
Speaking about the teams’ performance, David Perks, Head of Physics at Graveney and the team’s coach said:
The team handled the inquisition from the judges extremely well, I am very proud of them. They were up against stiff competition but managed to show what they are really made of.”
In addition to winning the team top spot, team member Aaron Stead won the prize for Best Individual, and was told that he embodied the “spirit of this competition” by a panel of six individual judges who identified the best individual speakers of the day. Team member Lawrence Maples won the third prize for his “nuanced argument”, while Orla Oakey received an Honourable Mention. Speaking at the end of the day Aaron said:
“The final has been an excellent opportunity to test ourselves against some very distinguished judges.”
Teachers and students alike believe that they will go on to achieve great things at the three day Debating Matters Competition National Final in London from 29 June - 1 July at the Wellcome Collection. In addition to this, students have also won subscriptions to Encyclopaedia Britannica, six ‘Very Short Introductions’ each and an impressive £500 worth of Hodder Education books for their school.
Debating Matters is no ordinary debating competition. Renowned for being ‘the toughest debating competition in the country’ debaters were grilled by panels of expert judges. Judges included: Simon Wilde, Associate Director, External Communications, National Institute of Health and Clinical Excellence; Ian Grant, Managing Director of the Encyclopaedia Britannica; Dr Clare Gerada, Chair of the Royal College of General Practitioners; Lindsay Johns, writer, broadcaster, and “hip-hop intellectual” and Dr Gerard Lyons, Chief Economist and Group Head of Global Research, Standard Chartered Bank.
Speaking at the end of the event, NICE’s Simon Wilde said:
“NICE is proud to be associated with Debating Matters. It is an unique opportunity to hear debate and discussion, at an extremely high level, on some of the very important issues affecting society today.”