11th December 2015
Writing: Thomas Franks (Year 11), Matthew Dagnall (Year 11), Matthew Cooke (Year 11) and Matthew Dagnall (Year 11)
Editing: Niall Jones (Year 13)
Following on from the highly successful House Debating competition held at the end of last year, Debating Society has seen a huge surge in popularity and has been rejuvenated in a new competitive light.
Students have spent the last term debating in three individual leagues, set based on both debating experience and on ability, with the Premier League exclusively for the Sixth Form and more experienced Year 11s, and the Championship and League One following up with competitors from across Key Stage 4. Over these three leagues there has been a regular cohort of 60 boys debating on a weekly basis, with a total of 91 competitive debates occurring this term alone. As this season comes to a close, the excitement of promotion beckons, and with it the looming dread of relegation, as the top and bottom teams move between the leagues to balance out ability levels. Below you can see a season summary from each of the leagues, which only serves as a small taster to the sheer enjoyment experienced from all competitors.
This league was intentionally set apart from the rest as a means of pushing the more experienced debaters to their limits, and as a participant myself, I can truly say it was a fantastically heated competition! Many of the motions for Premier League debates were far more difficult and specific than their lower-league counterparts, which lead to deeper and more intellectual debates with better quality arguments produced. On top of this, the Premier League took on the ‘British Parliamentary Style’ structure of having four pairs competing against each other instead of the two-on-two debates seen in the other leagues, which is far more commonplace in debating competitions at this level.
This was a league made up predominantly of Sixth Formers, yet still there was a large variation in debating ability, with some teams taking an obvious lead and others left behind in their wake. Patrick Merchant and Rob Hall were quick to take an early lead with James Wroe and Matthew Cooke following closely behind, while at the other end of the table things were very tight with many teams drawing on points.
As the season progressed there were many significant changes, including the rise of two very talented pairs that lay dormant in the first few weeks: Dhruv Babber and Rohan Montgomery climbed to first place by the middle of the season, while Dan Chapman and Dom Storey collated numerous second place standings to work their way up to the top of the table as well. As the season came to a close there was a tense finish at both the top and the bottom of the table. The top spot was still up for grabs right until the very end, and many other teams were compelled to place as high as possible, one example being the competition for fifth place between Thomas Franks and Matthew Dagnall, and Patrick Merchant and Rob Hall.
The season has been a huge success, with all competitors displaying a fantastic attitude and high level of commitment. There was a clear improvement in the ability of every participant, and fixtures that were predictable at the beginning of the season became far more unpredictable with many surprising results during the latter part of the season. Thanks must be given to Mr Spenceley who organised and orchestrated the term-long season, and to the four Sixth Form judges who gave up their lunchtimes to ensure everything ran smoothly.
The nine teams debating every week in the DCGS championship have improved massively as the season has gone on. Starting off as promising talents, many teams have taken the next step in debating to become class acts that are a pleasure to watch and adjudicate. The standard has been not much lower than that of the Premier League and the future certainly looks bright for Challoners debating. As for where the teams stand at the end of the eight week season, the automatic promotion spot was granted to last year’s House Debating finalists, Dominic Goodman and Dominic Dunster who got off to a shaky start but ended off the season with a six week winning streak in which they tipped the table on its head and demolished anyone in their path and won the whole league! As for the coveted playoff spot for the possibility of a promotion to the Promised Land - aka the Premier League, it is still in the balance with one game left of the whole season. Samuel Lane and Gianluca Abate need to beat the promising yet off form duo of Ben Coombes and Ravi Uppal to gain that spot but the chance of a slip up leaves the door open for the consistent team of Ayan Banerjee and James Wright who have shone this season. However an interesting change that occurred half way through the season was when Nicholas Clarke and Curran Shah who were looking like favourites for relegation made a permanent swap with Oliver Hardman coming in for Nick Clarke who was looking into other lunchtime activities. This change turned out to be critical as in Oliver's three games, he and Curran won all three! It is important to mention that the quality of some of the debates were genuinely incredible and all students involved should be highly commended for their achievements as well as the adjudicators for this division, Matthew Dagnall (Year 11) and Rob Hall (Year 12).
League One also came to a close finish, with Marshall and Dan winning overall with five wins, two draws and one loss. The real drama, however, was in the battle for promotion, as underdogs Adam and Lucas defeated Archie and Robbie in previous week, tearing wide the race for promotion. Despite winning their debate in the final week, Kit and Barney were just one point behind the pair in 2nd position. Adam and Lucas defeated Redford and Matt in the final week to claim second place and a potential promotion, as Archie and Robbie had already debated eight times, leaving them also on fourteen points with Kit and Barney. Adam and Lucas will debate against Harry and Sam, who came eighth in the league above, for a place in the Championship next season. Overall, much improvement was shown in the league in terms of public speaking, making points, and structuring speeches. The season saw some captivating speeches and controversial wins, and was very entertaining throughout. Judges included Prasanna Suresh, James Wroe, and Matthew Cooke.
So as this season concludes for the winter break, we all look forward to the next season in which all teams will be rejuvenated for a new season in which to showcase their ability, work hard and aim for promotion and the stars!