Eastbourne College – College debaters make National Finals at celebrated Oxford Union

06 Mar 2019

The Oxford Union represents what former Prime Minister Harold Macmillan hailed as the ‘last bastion of free speech in the Western World.’

With a tradition of hosting debates and speakers as far back as 1823, a strong Eastbourne College debating Society grasped the opportunity to follow in the footsteps of some of the most eminent speakers and shapers of the world narrative (Prof John Lennox, John Kerry, Morgan Freeman, Stephen Fry, Ian McKellen, Sir Malcolm Rifkind), with two pupils progressing to the national finals.

Four College teams travelled to the Oxford Schools Regional Debate Competition on Thursday 7 February, accompanied by the College’s Debater in Residence. The team was formed by Abby, Harry, Johnson, Max, Oliver, Olivia, Raul and Yeouw. Congratulations to Abby and Harry who have advanced to the Oxford Finals.

Run by the Oxford Union, this is the biggest debating competition in the UK. Aimed at students aged 14 to 18, the competition offers young people an excellent chance to develop their skills and confidence in public speaking, thoughtful argumentation and analytical problem solving. Set up over 20 years ago as a British Parliamentary school-level debating competition, it aims to make debating accessible to pupils. Every year, over a thousand pupils and around 350 teams are invited to participate.

The College’s Debating Society is a lively part of the school with many events planned throughout the year. Prior to the Oxford Schools competition, six teams had traveled to King’s College London to take part in a well-attended (63 teams) blind-topic event in British Parliamentary Debate style and only 15 minutes to prepare for each topic; no help from the internet allowed. Topics ranged from women in STEM, worker benefits, banning political parties and the US 2020 Presidential primary election.

We are very proud of our debating teams and of Abby and Harry who have made it to the finals day, to be held in March at the historic Oxford Union.