15 Feb 2013: Talk for Bradford
Talk for Bradford: an exciting new initiative to get Bradford students debating!
In October 2012 the ball started rolling on an exciting new initiative: ‘Talk for Bradford’. We asked Sophie Duncan, teacher of English and debate team coordinator at Carlton Bolling College, to tell us more.
“Talk for Bradford is the name of a collective of Bradford schools who wish to develop and promote oracy, public speaking and debating. Our story began with the re-establishment of the debate club at Carlton Bolling College. We entered a number of national competitions – including Debating Matters - but feared these would come and go without a suitable legacy. So, we decided to ask other Bradford schools to help us create one.
We sent out invitations to schools and colleges in the area asking colleagues who were passionate about empowering students to talk purposefully to work with us. The aim was to establish a network for speaking and listening across the district, and (luckily) over 10 other schools joined us.
What have we done so far?
To generate interest we set up a twitter account. We immediately noticed that people outside of education were interested. We were followed by local businesses, politicians and members of the press. Being part of this social media community has revealed how many people care about Bradford, its reputation and the opportunities for its young people. Through Twitter, we have found out about exciting oracy events like Bettakulcha, made connections with other debate clubs outside of the city and even communicated with Bradford MPs. Talk for Bradford has now met with MPs David Ward and Gerry Sutcliffe, both of whom are interested in supporting the project, and the young people of Bradford, and are willing to share their public speaking expertise.
At school level we have taken our pupils to meet with veteran debaters (and Debating Matters National Finalists) Beckfoot School to share ideas of how to prepare for a debate, and held our own ‘speed debate’ at Carlton Bolling Colege. Both meetings allowed students to work with peers from other schools. The ‘speed debate’ was a chance for the students to prepare for and take part in a debate with only short preparation time. Feedback was immensely positive and suggested these experiences were invaluable. Our students have loved working alongside new people with different experiences.
We have thrown ourselves into the Carlton Bolling debate club and into competing externally in debates externally. We have held an internal debate between two year 7 tutor groups using a twist on British Parliamentary debate style, and taken part in three national competitions up to now. Although the early competitions were a baptism of fire, they taught us something. This learning curve paid dividends when we got through to the second round of the English Speaking Union Schools MACE. We hosted the second round in January but, sadly, we did not go through but the atmosphere was fantastic and the team conducted themselves with confidence and maturity. We really have come far in a short space of time.
Every brand needs a logo – so we are going to hold a competition across the secondary schools in the borough to find a winning Talk for Bradford logo. Hopefully this logo will get its launch at our first workshop. We are looking to host an event for staff and students involving guest speakers, oracy experts and a dose of friendly debate competition at the end.
The only way is up, so keep your eyes peeled and follow @talkforbradford on Twitter!”
Debating Matters thinks Talk for Bradford is a fantastic initiative on the part of Carlton Bolling College and other schools in the area. We wish them every success with the project.