Debating & Public Speaking at Kingsbury High

As the Upper School Debating Society brings its season to a close, and the Lower School Debating Society looks likely to host the English Speaking Union’s London Debate Challenge this term, it is a pleasure to reflect on the year’s highlights (so far).

The crowning achievement was the success of Iman Mohamed (Year 13) and Sara Dehvari (Year 11) in reaching the National Finals of the Oxford Schools’ Debating Competition at the prestigious Oxford Union. Kingsbury High School was one of a very small number of state schools represented and the only one from the Brent and Harrow area. In debating, we are proud to make our claim of being the “finest for miles around”. The girls represented the school with distinction, having beaten first-class opposition in the regional round at Woodside High School to get to the national finals. Over a thousand schools had been knocked out on the way to the finals, which indicates the scale of this achievement. Sara is hoping to repeat this success during her years in the Sixth Form.

Oxford Schools’ Debating Competition

Oxford Schools’ Debating Competition at the prestigious Oxford Union. Photograph by Mr Senior

In addition to this achievement, the Sixth Form fielded five delegations (21 students) at the annual City of London School Model United Nations to compete against some well- known grammar and independent schools from in and around London. All performed brilliantly on the day but special congratulations are reserved for the efforts of Hadi Hijazi and Mahima Vekaria, both Year 12, for their excellent contributions to committees, and to Dhruv Sharan (Year 12) and Iman Mohamed (Year 13) for attaining ‘Highly Commended Delegate’ Awards.

City of London School Model United Nations.

City of London School Model United Nations. Photograph by Hadi Hijazi.

In public speaking, the school hosted the Jack Petchey Speaking Competition and our speakers, both in Year 10, were inspirational to watch: well done to Vinitha Vasantharajah, who set the standard for the evening with a fantastic opening speech, and to Hassan Naima, a prize-winner on the night, for his passionate oratory.

Kingsbury High School hosted the Jack Petchey Speaking Competition. Photograph by Camille Shah

Kingsbury High School hosted the Jack Petchey Speaking Competition. Photograph by Camille Shah

The school provides for debating and public speaking opportunities across the age range, from Year 7 through to Year 13, which includes Lower School and Upper School clubs, externally provided debating workshops (this year run by Debate Mate, Jack Petchey Speakout Challenge and the English Speaking Union), internal mentoring, and competitions. We have fielded teams this year in the Oxford Union, Cambridge Union and English Speaking Union Mace competitions. In the latter, Xane Mills, in Year 7, and Nouh El-Ouaz, in Year 8, deserve particular praise for thoughtful points made in the floor debate at Haberdashers’ Aske’s School for Boys in Elstree.

Thank you to the debating and public speaking post-holders in K (Ms Michal Tumber and Mr Andrew Mitchell) and T (Ms Nicole Assaad); to Ms Annette Woodrow for organising the Jack Petchey opportunities; to SLT and Year Leaders for their keen support; to the student debating mentors in Years 11, 12 and 13; and finally to Sakthy Uthayakumar, Head Girl, for choosing to use her richly deserved Jack Petchey Award to fund a debating workshop for the benefit of Upper School students.

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