Sixth-formers crowned German national debating champions at first attempt

Sixth-formers crowned German national debating champions at first attempt

A Year 12 team has taken first prize in a prestigious German-language national debating competition.

It is the first time QE has entered this well-established annual event run by the Goethe-Institut, a global cultural organisation that is the German equivalent of the British Council.

The four-strong team from QE impressed in three earlier rounds, before eventually taking the title in the final, overcoming a team drawn from the near-4,000 students at The Sixth Form College, Farnborough.

Headmaster Neil Enright said: “Congratulations to the team on their great success against tough opposition in this well-regarded national competition.”

Assistant Head of Languages Burgunde Lukasser explained that the motions debated were challenging, as the topics and the necessary vocabulary do not form part of the AS course followed in Year 12. “Our boys, team captain Olly Salter, Theo Mama-Kahn, Jai Patel and Ansh Jassra, were incredibly impressive each time. They really made us proud!”

Languages teacher Katrin Hood, who also accompanied the boys, added: “Theo, Ansh, Olly and Jai are exceptional Germanists and gave eloquent and dynamic performances. Their teamwork was outstanding, and it was clear how thoroughly they had prepared for the occasion. The boys had received helpful feedback from the debate judges along the way, and made a real effort to fine-tune their performance for each new round. The result was nothing short of mind-blowing!

“The atmosphere during the event was lovely, as Year 12 students from other schools came to watch. It was fantastic to see so many young people from around the country chatting and sharing their love of learning German.”

The first two rounds of the contest, the Debattierwettbewerb (debating competition), were held online, the third took place at Dr Challoner’s Grammar School in Amersham, and the final in the Goethe-Institut’s London base.

The rounds, motions and results were as follows:

Round 1: School canteens should only be allowed to sell vegetarian/vegan food. QE, in favour of the motion, beat Coloma Convent Girls’ School in south London.

Round 2: The use of social media endangers the health of young people. QE, against the motion, beat The Royal Grammar School, Guildford.

Round 3: The mental health of young people has been neglected during the pandemic. QE, against the motion, beat Dr Challoner’s.

Round 4: The future of medical provision is digital. QE, against the motion, beat Farnborough.

The three judges evaluated the teams against four criteria: knowledge of the topic and argumentation; debating skills in German; oral expression in German, and interaction with the audience. The judges announce the result and their overall impression, but do not publish the final score.

“It was a great experience for all involved,” said Miss Lukasser. “The person in charge of the debating competition, Frau Vogelgesang, said in an email to me afterwards that they were still talking about the amazing performance of the QE team.”