Debating trip to London
On 22nd March the Thirsk School and Sixth Form College debating team competed at the national finals in London of the prestigious English Speaking Union's schools' mace competition.
During the earlier rounds Thirsk was crowned North East champion, beating over 300 other schools. This is a particularly significant achievement because the team has never previously been involved in any competitions. Aidan Tulloch and Louis Benoit (Year 12) were joined at the final by eight of our year eleven students, all of whom had to apply for a place on the team, and who took responsibility for developing the team's research of the topics under discussion.
The final itself was an extraordinary event. Thirsk was up against selective independent schools with professional debating coaches and years of success in both national and international competitions. However, regardless of this, the school deeply impressed the judges with their passion, spontaneous wit and pugnacious style. In examining the idea of tradable refugee quotas across the EU, both Aidan and Louis outlined a series of administrative, economic and, above all, moral arguments about the issue. They deftly managed a series of complex interventions from their opponents, and dealt with a high level audience debate extremely effectively. What was immediately apparent was how relaxed the team was, settling comfortably into the high level atmosphere and making the audience and judges laugh regularly, despite the complexity and moral ambiguity of the issue. They could have done no more in their debate to impress.
The competition itself was won by Eton College, who had a very strong team and should be congratulated on the achievement. However, Aidan, Louis and their admirable team of researchers were clearly in the running, and should be extremely proud of all they achieved. Thirsk School and Sixth Form College can now justifiably say that they have one of the best debating teams in the country, and it is extremely exciting to consider how the achievements of this year can be developed in the future. In organising this expedition to London, the school is very deeply grateful to Grand Central trains, and MAB Environment and Ecology Ltd for their generous support. There is no way that we could have taken as many students down to London for such a life changing event without them.
You can read a detailed blog of the trip on our Facebook page.
Photographs by Gigi Giannella