Lower School Debating Competition

Our new Head Boy and Head Girl team, Haider Nazerali and Sara Dehvari, who are both very experienced and successful debaters, hosted Kingsbury’s first ever Lower School Debating Competition. This new competition for KHS gives our younger students an introduction to the various debating events that will take place once they are in Upper School and Sixth Form. The competition built on a highly successful Debating Workshop delivered by the English Speaking Union.
The competition involved 8 teams consisting of Year 7, 8 and 9 students debating their ways through two rounds, ably supported by the fantastic KHS Upper School Debating Society members, who judged each round. Danial Bakhtiari (7K) and Dylan Patel (7G) won individual prizes, whilst the winning team in a closely fought final in K Hall consisted of Xane Miles (8G), Jawad Bokhari (9R), Andrei Crenganis (9Y) and Kailan Gadher (9Y). Winners and Runners-Up received certificates.

Thank you to Ms Dusmez and Mr MacKay for running the Lower School Debating Society in Ms Assaad’s absence, and for Ms Tumber for working on debating skills with her Year 9 HPQ students. These efforts ensure that we have debating and public speaking skills being developed across every year group of the school and a clear ladder for students to progress in debating during their journey through the school and into the Sixth Form.

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.

Debating at KHS

Do you like discussing controversial issues? Do you think you can develop stronger arguments than your opponents? Well now you can put your quick wit and verbal skills to the test by taking part in competitive debating. Past and present members of the Upper School Debating Society have contributed to a short video which shows how competitive debating works and explains some of the roles and strategies that lead to success. The students were filmed during a debate on a motion about allowing schools to deal with misbehaviour by carrying out physical punishments (‘corporal punishment’).

Filmed and edited by Mr Windrich, and co-ordinated by Aim Higher Manager, Mr Mitchell, the video focuses on competitive debating in the “British Parliamentary” style, taking the format adopted for the Oxford Union and Cambridge Union competitions.

There are debating clubs for students in the Upper and Lower Schools and all students are warmly encouraged to give this activity their best shot – whether around the debating table or making points from the audience (“the floor”). In competitions, students are judged on the style of their presentation, the substance and structure of what they have to say, and the observance of rules and etiquette.

As a suggested classroom technique for the Kingsbury Expectations for Effective Lessons, teachers may be interested in incorporating competitive debating – or associated activities, such as mock trials, moots and oracy projects – in their lessons when considering controversial issues, ideas or topics which attract differing points of view.

For further information about debating and public speaking at Kingsbury High School, please see Mr Mitchell or Ms Tumber in the Upper School (Sixth Form and GCSE students respectively) and Mrs Assaad in the Lower School (Foundation and Acceleration students).

(video, also found on Planet eStream, by Mr Windrich & Mr Mitchell; text by Mr Mitchell)

Financially Speaking Final 2012


Year 9 students, Jai Ramchandani and Sahil Kotecha, represented Kingsbury High School at the Financially Speaking Final held at Bridewell Hall in Fleet Street on Tuesday 24 April 2012. The students were selected out of 30 Year 9 students by members of Speakers Trust at an event held at the school earlier last term. Kingsbury High School was the only Brent school invited to take part and was only one of 2 from schools north of the river. The students acquitted themselves extremely well.

The judging panel included:

– Paul Lewis, Personal Finance Journalist & Broadcaster
– Hugh Pym, Chief Economics Correspondent for the BBC
– Liz Ambekar, Director of Finance for The Eve Appeal
– Paul Warren, Bursar for Corpus Christi College, University of Cambridge
– Franca Rofe, Corporate Affairs, Citi
– Alex Palfreman, Financially Speaking Winner 2011, St Bonaventure’s Comprehensive Catholic School, Newham

Out of the 20 schools, 10 places were awarded at the end of the event of which Jai took 5th place.

A video of Jai’s speech is available for viewing on the Speakers Trust YouTube channel.

[information provided by Ms Woodrow & Mr Das; Photograph by Tony Preece & provided by Speakers Trust]