Last Saturday, Ali Johnston and Olivia Chesser (UVI) represented Cranleigh at the finals of the Oxford Union National Schools’ Debating Competition, having won their regional round in February. Their first debate – which they won – was on the motion ‘This House would financially compensate all those found not guilty at trial.’ This victory meant that their second debate was against much tougher competition- including the winners of the whole competition.
The following three debates were on equally diverse and interesting motions: ‘This House would make oil and gas companies cover the cost of policies to combat climate change’; ‘This House believes teachers should tell students they can achieve anything through hard work regardless of innate talent’ (which they debated in the Union’s prestigious Chamber); and ‘In post-conflict states this House would ban those who have used violence for political gain in the past from running for office’. Each debate is exceptionally mentally draining for all involved and lasts just over an hour. Facing much more experienced debaters in the second, third and fourth debates meant that the team struggled to place highly overall – coming 66th out of the 100 teams represented at the final, and out of over a thousand that entered the competition as a whole. As individual speakers, Ali ended in 92nd place on 294 points and Olivia 107th out of 200 on 292 points. Given that they had only started debating in October, this is a tremendous achievement.
Head of History