Ruislip Students are Up for Debate

On Tuesday 22nd March, three Year 9 students travelled to Alleyn’s School in Dulwich, South London, to participate in Ruislip High School’s first ever competitive formal debate. In a competition organised by PiXL, a leading educational organisation, and The Noisy Classroom, Stephen (9S), Tiasha (9A) and Mohamed (9F) vied against thirty different schools from around London.

The students’ debating journey began four weeks ago when the English Faculty began teaching students about the history, rules and skills of formal debate. Year 9 students have been honing the central tenets of structure, delivery, language, content and response in order to improve their oracy and make their voices heard. Topics that have been up for debate include the banning of violent video games, the justification of child labour in less economically developed countries and the abolishment of nuclear energy.

All this hard work culminated in three students being selected to represent Ruislip High in the competition. The opposition was fierce, with many schools in attendance having far more experience in debate than the Ruislip High students. Despite this, the Ruislip High team won two out of their three debates, the third being an impromptu motion for which they had just twenty minutes to prepare. Judges, teachers and other students on the day commented on how remarkable it was that this was Ruislip High’s first outing in the debating arena and particularly praised their articulacy and rebuttal skills.

Students have been overwhelmingly positive about the debating experience:

Dylan (9S): “The lessons have been fun; I’ve enjoyed debating about different topics and learning the techniques. I’ve learnt that society sees things from two different points of view.”

Dev (9S): “We have overcome the challenges of arguing points that we normally wouldn’t agree with ourselves and learned about the points of view of other people.”

Khuram (9S): “Debating is a great way to express your opinions.”

Ella Pierre (9S): “I think the debating lessons have really helped us to see how many potential elements there are to a certain topic.”

Teachers have also enjoyed embedding debate into the curriculum. Mrs Keenan, Curriculum Leader in English said Despite being new to formal debate, our Year 9 students showed confidence, eloquence and a competitive spirit throughout the ‘Up for Debate’ unit studied in English this term. All their teachers were hugely impressed with the way Ruislip High students rose to the challenge of formal debating and the level of skill demonstrated. We will definitely be doing more debating in future!”

Headteacher Dr Lecky, who observed some of the students’ debates said “I have been so impressed with the Year 9 students’ engagement and enthusiasm to debate formally challenging topics; this reflects their maturity and willingness to consider the complexity of contemporary issues facing our society.”

Despite not placing highly enough in the competition to progress to the next round, Ruislip High students are excited about the next chapter of their debating story. This will include a brand new debating society in the summer term, the formation of teams and, of course, further competitions.

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