Willink Get a Good Rating at Debating
When Willink upset the odds at their local debating competition at the Oxford Union in March, many wouldn’t have thought that they could top this success. However, 6 months on and competing at the European Youth Parliament (EYP) national session based in Liverpool Hope University, the Willink debating team put on a respectable performance in September.
As the only English comprehensive school competing at the event, the Willink were up against stern opposition. From grammar schools in Devonshire to private schools in Glasgow as well as strong debating teams from Northern Ireland and South Wales, our team of 9 keen debaters were among a crop of challenging opponents.
Although, this tension was soon relieved when the 9 members of our school team were divided up into separate committees for the weekend. Despite being thrown into the deep end and being put in groups of strangers from different schools, all of our students acclimatised quickly and socialised brilliantly, most notably documented with Charlie Holmes’ close relationship with Greg the Glaswegian and their embarrassing dance moves in a video made by the EYP media team.
After thorough team building and persistent preparation on Thursday and Friday where both friendships and resolutions were made, Saturday marked the start of general assembly in the university’s grand hall. This is when our students shone brightly with all of them making significant contributions.
For example, Finley Bowen made a menacing attack speech against the motion of introducing driverless cars as well as Ella Dunn, Emily Coleman and Elizabeth Holdcroft all making valuable rebuttals against opposing committees. Will Bray, Dylan Hinde and Olly Wissett continued the barrage as more well thought and insightful points were being articulated by the Willink team. In addition, our Head Boy, Henry Wright, wrote and spoke an engaging and persuasive defence speech for his committee, which resulted in the successful passing of their resolution.
Also, lets take a moment to thank the teachers who were supervising the students on the trip. Both Mrs Gordon’s and Mrs Downey’s support from the side-line and their charitable acts of making the trip possible was an equally important ingredient to the school’s success.
When the final debate came to an end on Sunday, the judges had a tough decision to make. The team of officials had to assess the individual performances by each candidate and add this score to their school’s total. Then, the scores were counted and the results were announced, Willink were not in the top 3 to advance to international forums.
Disappointment aside, there were still more positives for the school than just pride. Three of our students did catch the eyes of the judges as Olly Wissett, Henry Wright and Charlie Holmes were rewarded for their efforts and have now been offered to go to an international forum in the next year.
Overall, the Willink debating team had already pulled off an unprecedented feat in reaching this stage, but their admirable enthusiasm across the weekend meant that they didn’t just represent the school proudly but represented the Thames Valley excellently too. Politics and debating might well have been discovered as the school’s hidden forte, could these be the faces of the nations political future?