By Jonathan Selby, Head of Government and Politics
On Tuesday, two teams from Bedales took part in the Oxford Schools’ Debating Competition hosted at Guildford High School.
There were 90 teams competing – and two ‘swing’ teams to make up the numbers – which makes the competition logistically different as each judge only ever sees a maximum of eight teams. Unlike other competitions, the judges were all Oxford University students, which gave a lively and youthful feel to the competition.
On arrival, the teams only had 15 minutes notice of the motion they were to debate, and were not allowed phones, books or teacher assistance to help them construct their arguments. It was a testing format which none of our debaters had experienced before. Each team had two debates, the first on compulsory national service and the second on removing the gender distinction for actors in the arts.
Bedales’ first team comprised our conservative thinkers, Morgan Tasker (our version of The Spectator columnist Rod Liddle) and Amos Wollen (who doesn’t like post-modernism). The second team consisted of our more liberal wing, Connie Gillies and Taragh Melwani.
We did not win, nor were we likely to as Taragh and Amos are only in Block 4 and they were up against sixth formers. They did, however, show considerable potential and were not shy to engage in sometimes controversial debate. Connie was probably the star of our show and was really effective taking issue with what her opponents said, but all our debaters came across as bright and globally aware.