At 7.15am on Saturday 3 March, four Year 13 students boarded the minibus with Mr Senior, Director of Sixth Form, to make the hour and a half journey to attend the Cambridge Union Final.
Two teams won places at the final. The first team were made of Sara Dehvari and Haider Nazerali. Our second team was Salem Ali and Akira Alman. Both teams had won a place at this much coveted final consisting of only 36 teams from all over the world. To win their place in the earlier debating rounds they had beaten prestigious independent and selective schools including Haberdashers’ Aske’s Boys’ School, Watford Grammar School for Boys, John Lyons School and Merchant Taylors’ School.
It was a long day consisting of four preliminary rounds, with 15 minutes’ preparation time for each. They debated a range of motions, the most challenging being ‘This house supports pre-entry closed shops’ in which Sara and Haider came second. They went on to win the next round when debating ‘This house as the US Democratic Party would campaign to repeal the Second Amendment.’
Sara commented, “This was my third Oxbridge Finals day and, as my last, this was certainly the most memorable.” Haider, who joined KHS Sixth Form principally so he could be part of a thriving and successful Debating Society, added, “The Cambridge Final was my eighth competition this year and, at this event, we competed against some of the best debaters in the country, if not the world. Getting to 14th place was a fantastic achievement.” Salem added, “It was a great event in my final year in the school and all the weekly practices paid off to help me get into this final.”
Just being at this final was an amazing achievement as the best debaters in the world were at the event, some flying from as far as Canada, Sri Lanka and Singapore. Some of the debaters were in National Squads and debated for their country. Thanks to Mr Mitchell for running the weekly practice debates and for organising and attending so many competitions throughout the year.
A small group of KHS students travelled to the Institute of Education to compete in the UCL Schools’ Debating Cup, a fiercely contested event with teams from some of the best debating schools in the country (such as Dulwich College, Eton and St Paul’s Girls). Kingsbury High School was represented in the competition by Aaron Stevens and Arran Jabbari, two Debating Society regulars but external competition “novices”, with support on the sidelines from Nikita Shikotra and Nauman Zahid; and Kingsbury’s Head Boy, Haider Nazerali, competed for the Debate Mate organisation with a partner from another school. They all enjoyed the competition and the motions were challenging but also very interesting.
It became clear, as the competition progressed, that Haider’s team was heading for the finals and we all stayed to watch his brilliant performance in the semi-final (on requiring games manufacturers to promote female protagonists), followed by his characteristically strong contribution to an exceptionally hard-fought final on a motion proposing the selling of citizenships. In the end Haider shared joint first prize with his Debate Mate partner as Best Speaker on the Day (highest scoring across all debates) and was a Runner-Up in the Final, with the Debate Mate team narrowly losing to Dulwich College.
Haider is next representing Kingsbury High School in the National Finals of the Cambridge Union Schools Debating Competition, in which he will be partnered by Head Girl, Sara Dehvari. The school will also be represented in these finals by Salem Ali and Akira Allman, who have performed superbly in Wednesday lunch-time debates over the course of the year.
The school recently hosted the Second Round of the English Speaking Union’s Mace Debating Competition in K Hall, playing host to, and competing against, Harrow School, Immanuel College, Merchant Taylors’, St Helen’s and Whitmore High School for a place in the West London Finals.
It was a closely fought contest, with all teams contributing to an evening of high quality and enjoyable debating on motions relating to charitable symbols, manipulated images in the media and religious symbols in the workplace. Kingsbury’s team – Siham Sahal (Year 12) and Nauman Zahid (Year 13) – were a credit to the school and debated with distinction.
At the end of the evening St Helen’s deservedly took first place but our students should be proud of their performance against some very strong teams. Kingsbury debaters will be back in action later in the month for the Oxford Union Schools Competition on 21st February at Finchley Catholic High School and on 24th February for the UCL Debating Cup. They will also be travelling to Cambridge on Saturday 3rd March for National Finals Day of the Cambridge Union Schools Competition.
Many congratulations to Nauman Zahid (Year 13) and Siham Sahal (Year 12), prominent members of the Upper School Debating Society, for securing a place in the second round of the English Speaking Union (ESU) Mace competition with an excellent debating performance opposing the introduction of e-sports to the Olympic Games. Kingsbury went through this tough first round along with Queen Elizabeth School, Barnet, and Immanuel College, Bushey. The debates were judged by Alice Dendy, of the ESU; and George Burns, a Sixth Form manager at neighbouring Claremont High School.
We are also grateful to, and commend, Haider Nazerali and Sara Dehvari (both Year 13) for competing as a “swing team” to ensure that the three scheduled debates went ahead as planned when one team was unable to attend. They strongly opposed a suggestion that students should take part in compulsory national service after Year 13.
We look forward to receiving news of the second round in due course.
Thank you to Godwin on the caretaking team; to Careen, Mary and the catering team; to Rachelle Regan and the behaviour team; to Tracey Cox; and to the members of staff and fellow students who kindly gave their time to support the competitors during the evening.
Two Year 13 members of the Upper School Debating Society – Haider Nazerali (Head Boy) and Akira Allman – represented the Kingsbury High School at the EU Mock Council 2018. This was a high profile event, organised by the European Commission and the British Council, and Kingsbury High School had to win a qualifying round to secure a place. Kingsbury High School was one of only 32 winning schools across the UK that took part in the mock summit of EU leaders on 22 November at the Law Society in Chancery Lane. The 64 students discussed and debated two key issues: the future of the United Kingdom in the Erasmus+ programme and the rights of EU citizens in the UK once it has left the European Union.
The Mock European Council aims to give Sixth Form students a chance to experience the EU’s decision-making process by taking part in debates and learning more about EU policies in specific areas. Each school was assigned the role of one of the EU’s 28 member states, KHS being Portugal, and two students played its head of government, negotiating on one of the two issues in the talks.
The British Council’s EU Regional Director, Rebecca Walton, opened the event, with
welcoming remarks by Christine Dalby, Acting Head of the European Commission
Representation in the UK. Her Excellency Ms. Tiina Intelmann, the Estonian ambassador to
the UK, closed the one-day event with an inspirational and thoughtful speech.
Christine Dalby said: “The UK is leaving the EU but the way the EU works and takes
decisions will continue to be relevant to British economic and political life in the future.
Taking part in the mock summit will give the students an invaluable insight into the dynamics of political negotiations.”
Rebecca Walton said: “Sustaining educational and cultural ties between the UK and the EU
is fundamental to the UK’s future relations with Europe. Erasmus+ is of particular importance. It is a fundamental building block of cultural and education cooperation across Europe and it provides personal and career benefits to young people.”
Thanks to Harsha Sorathia and Tamara Faires-Back for supporting the students on the day and to Mr Mitchell and the Upper School Debating Society.
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)