This year the RSD Debating Society has stepped up to the challenge of the Northern Ireland Schools Debating Competition.
The motion for the debate was “This house believes that ‘The Big Society’ is a sham”. One RSD team took up the challenge of proposing the motion, while another opposed the motion in a separate debate.
Even the teacher in charge of the Debating Society, Mr Ferran, admitted that the motion would be quite challenging, even for experienced debaters; nevertheless both teams managed to cope extremely well due to provided support with research and ideas from the members of the staff and pupils (and Google, of course).
After many lunchtimes that were dedicated to the preparation for the debates, on 3rd November the first team (proposition) that consisted of Emily Garvin and Thomas Hislop was ready to argue that “The Big Society” has a fundamental fraud that can lead Britain into poverty. The Debating Society was expecting to compete against horribly arrogant students; instead, the opposition consisted of extremely nice Mary Laverty and Catherine O’Callaghan from the Ballymena Academy. Nevertheless the competition was intense since both teams were arguing at a very high level (a member of staff commented afterwards: “I have never heard so much about The Big Society and politics in one hour”) however it is disappointing that the RSD pupils were unlucky to lose by 2 points.
A week later Erinn Morrow and Anastasiya Kret, which made up the second team (opposition), with supporters and Mr Agass travelled to Methodist College Belfast to argue that The Big Society will improve Britain’s social spirit and volunteering will drive both people and the economy forward. Again, the proposing debaters, who were Edward Nickell and Charlotte Higgins, were very welcoming and fun but unfortunately the RSD team was unlucky to lose narrowly.
Although the teams were a little nervous before their debates, everyone looks forward to next year to participate again in the competition.
All who were involved have enjoyed this experience and it has inspired us to propose some reforms to the procedures of our in-school debates and possibly to organise an inter-house debating competition. For now, the RSD Debating Society wishes all the best to the winning teams in their semi-finals. Finally, the members would like to thank everyone for their support and especially Mr Agass whose help and advice was invaluable.