Boys from QE and pupils from a leading girls’ school had just 45 minutes to prepare for a special series of debates.
One hundred Ye ar 8 boys and five QE staff headed off to The Henrietta Barnett School for the afternoon of workshops chaired by the pupils themselves.
Academic Enrichment tutor Helen Davies said: “The purpose was to provide challenge for the students and put them in a situation where they were required to take academic risks.”
They therefore had to research debating points and evidence in the 45 minutes after they were given the topics, which were:
- This house believes that creating new grammar schools, as proposed by the current government, is a good idea,
- This house believes that friends are more important than family,
- This house believes that students need more time to discuss religious and political beliefs in school, as part of the curriculum,
- This house believes that secondary school students should have more choice in the subjects they study at school.
The debates took place in four rooms and each was supervised by a member of staff and by an HBS sixth-former.
“The HBS sixth-formers worked very well with all the students and gave a short piece of feedback to every Year 8 student at the end of each debate, which was all thoughtful and constructive,” said Miss Davies.
Pupils engaged well in all the debates, Miss Davies said, with interesting points being raised from the floor. “QE and HBS students clearly enjoyed working together and sharing their ideas with students from another school.
“In debate 2, students brought up some interesting ideas to do with families which suffer from domestic abuse and child carers and, in debate 4, some interesting subjects were suggested that could be taught in a wider curriculum at secondary schools.”
At the end of the day, the best eight debaters overall were asked to prepare for a final debate – and this time they were given just 15 minutes to prepare. The debate took place in front of all the other pupils, with all of them “rising to the challenge very well”.
“The event was an excellent opportunity for our boys to interact with students from another school in a challenging but supportive environment, where they were required to develop and voice their own opinions. It is exciting to see our partnership with HBS expanding this year, so a greater number of boys are able to benefit from these types of events,” Miss Davies concluded.