Berkshire School Children Win National Debating Championships – Wellington College

14 May 2021

The Wellington College Debating Team, from, Crowthorne in Berkshire, has won the English-Speaking Union’s Schools’ (ESU) Mace. This is the oldest and largest debating competition for schools in England.

Arthur Grigg, Anjali Darling, Atticus Christie-Miller and Charlotte Grigg made up the Wellington College team that took on The Bishop’s Stortford High School for Boys to argue the motion “This House regrets the romanticisation of motherhood”.

The Lower Sixth pupils, who are currently studying for the IB and A Levels, argued in opposition of the motion at the final, which was live screened via YouTube on 22 March. Despite the barriers of both screens and masks, both teams did incredibly well in engaging their online audience and examining the barriers that mothers and parents face in society.

The judging panel, which included Baroness Hale of Richmond, was unanimous in selecting Wellington College as the overall winner, remarking that the team presented a creative case and were scrupulous in their questioning of what motherhood has meant for women throughout history.

The global pandemic has had a significant impact on many extra-curricular activities for young people, but debating has been able to thrive in its virtual format, giving pupils the opportunity to break from study and learn new skills beyond the curriculum. The team of pupils worked hard in the months leading up to the finals to refine and master their argument. They received specialist guidance and support from Issy Fidderman, who as well as being a long-standing coach for Wellington College is also a coach of the England Schools Debating Team at Debate England.

The team said: ‘The glory of being national champions feels amazing as well as being described as the clear winners at such a prestigious event.

Preparing and debating online was a challenge! It was also difficult when we’d have disagreements about how to interpret a motion, but we dealt with this as a healthy argument and that is what debating is all about!’

Head of Wellington College Debating, Dr Ramsey, said: ‘It’s been wonderful to see their dedication and hard work pay off. They have grown in confidence and have become such articulate young men and women. I hope that the skills they have learned will become invaluable in university interviews and in any profession they choose’.

Entering their final year at Wellington College, this team of bright, young debating stars is keen to build on this success and hope to enter the World Schools Debating Championships (WSDC). The Championships take place each year in a different country, hosted by a national debating body.

Headmaster, James Dahl said: ‘What a wonderful achievement! Many congratulations to them and Dr Ramsey’.