Bournside Debating Achievements

Year 12

The first achievement comes from Emma and Amber, who attended the English Speaking Union’s mace debate competition. This was their first ever competitive debate, of which they were up against some highly experienced teams with large debating societies including Cotswold School, Cheltenham Ladies’ College and Bromsgrove. They were proposing that the voting age be reduced to 16 and were faced with tough opposition and then further questions from the audience before giving their summary speech.

The girls enjoyed the experience, with one adding “We were nervous leading up to the competition but once we started to speak we quickly eased into it and felt confident that we could get through it.” The whole process lasted around 40 minutes but the challenge had paid off when the announcement came through that Bournside had won the debate! Emma and Amber will be going through to the second round of the competition early next year.


Further in Year 12, we have April and James who entered the Debating Matters competition. Their proposition was on the topic of Autonomous Cars and whether they should be implemented, of which they were arguing for. They found it difficult on a personal level as they felt that if they were initially asked if they’d get into an autonomous car, they’d decline! But they both persevered and argued their points to their opposition, Chosen Hill School.

April commented: “The selling point of the whole competition was that you were treated as an adult the entire time from the judges, so they didn’t hold back with their questions and were very strict. One judge was a barrister and you could definitely feel the challenge to think on your feet quickly and respond back to someone with a lot of presence in the room.”

Unfortunately the final feedback from the judges was that their summary was weaker than Chosen Hill’s and therefore lost the debate, but the team didn’t walk away empty handed as April was still awarded Best Speaker!

Year 10/11

We move on to our Year 10/11 team who, following on from Emma and Amber’s entry to the mace debate competition, had entered the first heat of the Public Speaking Competition which was also hosted by the English Speaking Union. Our team consisted of Claire, Rhiannon and Madison. The competition offers three main roles: the speaker, the chairperson and the questioner. Rhiannon and Madison had been split away from Claire and were put with a speaker from Cotswold School. Rhiannon held the chairperson role while Madison was the questioner, of which they both felt the experience was very fun but found the judges to be quite strict!

Claire entered as a speaker and was partnered with a chairperson and questioner from St. Edward’s. Claire’s speech was on the topic of “The Labour Party – Better than ever or on death’s door?” which she believed they were on death’s door. She explained “I didn’t realise just how passionate I felt about it until I started to give the speech. Mrs Hemsley had seen the topic on the list and recommended it to me.”

The team successfully made it through the first heat and we’re proud to say they will be attending the second heat which will be held on the 7th February next year. In addition to this, Claire was awarded Best Speaker while Rhiannon was awarded Best Chairperson!


Mrs Hemsley and Mr Burton commended the students for all the hard work they have put into the events and how incredible these successes are. Well done to all of you!