The Spring Term is a busy one for our Debating Society with numerous competitions taking place after school and at weekends. Two of the biggest events on the debating calendar are the Cambridge and Oxford Union Debating Competitions, both taking place in the first month of the year. Participants must debate against other schools and work their way through several rounds unaided and without knowing the topic of debate beforehand.
Debating is a skill that many boys find to be useful in later life and which is the best possible training for interviews at university and for employment. It builds confidence and develops public speaking skills. The Debating Society continues to meet on Tuesday after school and all are welcome.
Cambridge Union Debating Competition
Six boys journeyed to Cambridgeshire to attend the Cambridge Union on Saturday 21st January. Of the nine debates in which John Lyon took part, the boys won their chamber in three of them and finished fourth in another three. There were around 150 students from London and the East of England present and, as usual, the boys were given 15 minutes to prepare for each debate with no access to electronic support of any kind. This was no mean feat and to win a chamber is remarkable. For many schools the debating team is drilled all year with the Cambridge and Oxford competitions in mind and professional debating coaches are hired. Our boys undertake this as an extra-curricular activity and it is fair to say that for most it is a hobby.
Team member, Tyler Stanley-Owusu describes what debating and the Cambridge event has added to his skills, “I learnt that I have more control over my speaking ability than I thought. Having a natural stammer, of course, you can imagine I find it quite difficult to speak in high pressure situations. But the Cambridge debate in particular taught me that by gathering your thoughts, organising them methodically and letting them out articulately - not only can you conquer any speaking anxieties, but you can also be very persuasive whilst sounding good in the process. It's a big win. Overall, I am extremely appreciative of the opportunity it has afforded me and all the other members of the Debating Club. Being able to compete intellectually with the young minds of other top schools on the grand stage is incredible. I thoroughly urge anyone interested in doing something worthwhile with their future, to join the society.”
Cambridge Team: Alex Clarke and Tyler Stanley Owusu, Piar Kahai and Mantej Kambo, Qalam Trevelyan and Thomas Salter
Oxford Union Debating Competition
Wednesday 25th January saw six boys travel to Oxford to take part in their competition. Fifty teams entered with only eight being able to move through to the final. Oxford, unlike Cambridge, do not announce the results of the individual chambers, instead announcing the winning teams. Sadly John Lyon did not make it into the final eight but the boys were highly enthusiastic and enjoyed the intellectual challenge. Tyler Stanley Owusu deserves a special mention who attended the debate under his own steam as a spectator and supporter but found himself stepping into the breach as a swing speaker when the competition found itself a man down with a ‘no-show’. An unmarked competitor without whom the competition would not be able to run. He accepted with alacrity and performed with aplomb.
Oxford Team: Atif Fazil and Harpal Khambay, Piar Kahai and Mantej Kambo, Asher Weisz and Jude Hedges-Robinson