Oxford Parliamentary Debating
Tensions were rising when Alton School 6th Form entered two pairs, Maria Camilla Linero Rueda and Jess Stephenson, and, Poppy Hulbert and Millie Banks, into their first debating completion: the Oxford Parliamentary Debating first round. Camilla, our Colombian exchange student, was thrown even further into the deep end, because she had to debate in a foreign language! The girls waited in Winchester College’s auditorium, with growing anticipation and determination, for their first motion. They felt a dozen other schools’ eyes dart around the room; the competition had already begun in all its ferocity. Suddenly, the words “This House would have a ban on zoos”, lit the screen. Fifteen minutes. The girls knew that they had fifteen minutes to devise their argument proposing or opposing this motion. Pens scribbled, competitors sighed and… “Your time is up!” The first debate had started. Camilla and Jess stood their ground, proposing the motion as “Prime Minister”. They argued with passion for banning zoos, highlighting animal cruelty cases in zoos that they had previously read in the news. Alton School’s confidence had come on in leaps and bounds once the second motion was announced: “This House would stream children based on academic ability from an early age.” Poppy Hulbert and Millie Banks proposed this motion, drawing on their own streaming success stories and arguing that streaming children based on academic ability would strengthen the country’s future economy.
All four girls were given a taste for a career in politics; they were inspired to take a step through the door that they had just opened, wanting to resolve social and economic issues for their generation through government. Amongst most schools, they did not qualify for the next round, nevertheless, they completed Oxford Parliamentary Debating with pride, because they were intellectually brave.