04 Jul 2016: Magdalen College School, Oxford - Debating Matters Champions 2016

Oxford sixth formers take the Champions 2016 title - congratulations Magdalen College School!

from left to right: teacher Dr James Panton; students Tom Bates, Joel Stanley, Jake Deans, Isaam Alvi and Tom Gould.

Magdalen College School, Oxford, beat 11 schools from across the UK to win the Academy of Ideas Debating Matters National Final at the Museum of London. They impressed all judges and schools with their sharp ideas, broad approach to the topics and outstanding research winning all four of their debates to be crowned Debating Matters National Champions 2016.

The Debating Matters Competition is supported by primary funder the Wellcome Trust.

The Greater London Authority hosted an opening reception on Friday 1 July at City Hall. Secretary of State for Schools, Nick Gibb MP, and Deputy Chair of the London Assembly, Jennette Arnold OBE AM, addressed the students and invited guests.

Magdalen prepared for over a month for the National Final weekend, and in their opening debates posed the arguments that the UK should introduce a sugar tax and that Britain should pay reparations for the slave trade. In the semi-final Tom Gould and Joel Stanley beat Douglas Academy by arguing that humanity should fear advances in artificial intelligence. Tom and Joel then triumphed in the final debate against Hutton Church of England Grammar School, former competition champions, arguing there should not be limits to free speech on social media. Judges also awarded Tom Gould the prestigious Best Individual award due to his exemplary performance in the semi-finals and final, and intelligent questions from the audience.

Teacher and debate coach Dr James Panton said:

“Thank you to Debating Matters for an exceptional weekend. My kids went further than I’d imagined they could and are obviously delighted. But more than that - the whole weekend is a testament to what we can do with smart young kids when we’re willing to push them to take themselves seriously. They’ve learnt more this weekend than in the preceding 12 months. And they loved it”

Magdalen College School student Tom Gould said of the experience:

“I wish I had some wit left, but I’m all debated out. I’m over the moon we won.”

And team mate Tom Bate, who debated in the opening rounds, told us:

“An outstanding and exemplary competition, which gives you the chance to express any idea, big or small, controversial or logical. Fantastic”

The Debating Matters team would like to thank all the judges and speakers who helped to make the weekend so challenging and stimulating for the students who attended, but most importantly we would like to take this opportunity to thank all of our sponsors and supporters for their commitment and belief in the Debating Matters Competition. Thanks to: the Wellcome Trust, Hodder Education, UCAS, BAE Systems, CIPR Corporate & Financial and CIPR Public Affairs, the Medical Research Council, The Chartered Institute of Taxation and Mattioli Woods plc for the commitment they have shown to the competition, and of course to the Greater London Authority and the Museum of London for hosting the National Final events.


Winners: Magdalen College School, Oxford

Runners-up: Hutton Church of England Grammar School, Hutton

Semi-finalist 1: Repton School, Derby

Semi-finalist 2: Douglas Academy, Milngavie

Best Individual: Tom Gould, Magdalen College School
Highly Commended: Dylan Woodward, Exeter College
Commended: Rosie Duthie, Douglas Academy

Gina Owens Memorial Prize: Fran Best, Whickham School and Sports College

Honourable Mentions:  Tom Bates, Magdalen College School, Oxford; Laura Bramall, Repon School, Derby; Lauren Hall, Queens’ School, Bushey; Issac Hempstead-Wright, Queen Elizabeth’s Grammar School, Faversham; Keith Mather, South Hunsley School and Sixth Form College, South Hunsley; Jane Prinsley, Norwich High School for Girls, Norwich; Milo Simpson and Stan Whittaker, Exeter College, Exeter; Josh Tulloch, Kingsdale Foundation School, London.


For media enquiries about the Debating Matters National Final 2016 please contact Adam Rawcliffe on 020 7269 9231. For all the latest news on the competition, images from the National Final and much more, follow us on Twitter and Facebook. And if you want your school to be crowned Champions 2017, take part!

National Final photography by Chris Sharp.


Thursday 27 June:
Oxfordshire Championship at Oxford Union, in partnership with Magdalen College School and Oxford Festival of Arts

Friday 5 July:
North East Championship at Durham Sixth Form Centre


Find a list of all our previous championship events here.


Bernie Whelan, our DM coordinator, is raising money for Debating Matters. To stage one of our Championships for six to 12 teams costs £6,000. Find out more on Bernie’s Wonderful fundraising page.


© 2005-2019 Debating Matters Competition, boi, Unit 208, Cocoa Studios, The Biscuit Factory, Drummond Road, London, SE16 4DG, UK

Tel +44 (0)20 3176 0827 - | admin login