Tuesday, 15 March 2016

Whitley Students Speak at US Embassy

A blog by Amy Read, Whitley Academy Head Girl.

Thursday 10th March was the date of the 'Frankly Speaking Debate', in which myself, Imogen Foley, Louise Ainge, Tayla Twigger and Pavani Konda were apart of in London. 

After an early start (06:15 at the train station), we were on our way to the Benjamin Franklin House for the first 2 heats of the competition. 

We were split into two teams, Years 10 & 11 with Louise and Imogen, and Years 12 & 13 with Pavani and myself (Amy- the Head Girl). After the train ride and the first of many underground rides, we arrived at the historic house which seemed like the Tardis at first, as from the outside it appeared quite small but inside it held a great deal of history. 

The first debates were underway and we were on the opposition of ‘This house would reverse the recent decision by the British Fertility Regulator to allow human embryos to be modified’. The other team had logical and valid points as to why we shouldn’t reverse the decision, but they ventured off way too much into the possible future of modification, whereas we kept to the statement and argued why only a small group of scientists were granted permission to modify the embryos. 

For the second half of the debate, the Years 10 & 11 groups had the statement ‘This house would levy a tax on all high-sugar foods’. Louise and Imogen debated really well opposing the tax considering it was a hard statement for or against. 

The scores were totalled up and both of our teams had made it through to the semi-finals.

We were all aware of the statement for the semi-finals before the day but we did not know whether we would be for or against it. The statement read ‘This house believes that any American over the age of 18 should legally be allowed to buy a hand gun without restriction’. Though every team was hoping to be on the opposing side, which Pavani and I luckily were, Louise and Imogen were on the proposing side. Pavani and I had some hard hitting facts about the real dangers that hand guns in the US possess, but the opposing side were also correct in their points about the protection that guns give to the citizens of the US. 

Unfortunately, none of our teams from Whitley had made it to the finals; however, we had come very close. Nonetheless, we were still able to watch the finals at the US Embassy, London. 

We had to take our passports, and go through airport-style security to enter the Embassy and wear passes during our stay. The finals took place in a small theatre, where the debaters sat at tables on the stage. We only had a small amount of information on what the subject for the last statement would be, only when the finalists were announced did they give the statement: ‘This house believes that over the next 70 years, the special relationship between the US and the UK will grow stronger.’ The first team from Seven Kings High School, London were great at proposing for the statement and made valid political points about the past relationships we had had. The other team from The Studio, Liverpool were good, but one of their team mates seemed to crack under the pressure of an audience.

Seven Kings were the overall winners and one of their team mates won a 3 week trip to Washington DC.

All in all, the day was amazing. I learned so much about the extended mace debating style that we used and how to debate properly. I also enjoyed looking into the topics that we had to debate as it made me more aware of current events in the world and media. Hopefully we will return next year knowing fully well what is expected and the level of knowledge needed to back up our points and try to catch the other teams out.