Update! We look forward to the safe return of some Junior School pupils w/c 1 June, when key worker provision and Guided Home Learning for all other pupils resumes.

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Spring Debating

It has been another action-packed half term for South Hampstead’s debaters and public speakers.

At the beginning of the term, Jane and Nadia, our committed Lower Sixth debating pair, took part in the ESU Schools’ Mace Regional Final for West London. They did exceptionally well to reach that stage, having made it through two previous rounds. They competed against five excellent teams but ultimately lost out to the pair from St. Paul’s Girls’.  They performed with real skill in their debate, in favour of the motion, which read: This house would legalise paid surrogacy in the UK.

Shortly after this, Nadia teamed up with Juliana, in Year 10, to compete in the Oxford Schools’ Finals’ Day at the Oxford Union, having made it through the regional round of the competition. The girls had a brilliant day in this historic setting, participating in four intense rounds. They did very well indeed, with Juliana, one of the competition’s youngest debaters, coming ninth out of 63 individual novice speakers.

On Saturday 23rd March, seven of our Year 10 students took part in a day-long Debate Mate Schools competition. Everyone participated in three debates and, at the end of the day, Libe and Athene broke to make it through to the Novice Final – one of the top four novice teams. This was Athene’s first competition, so an excellent achievement. Juliana and Eliza, who achieved the same overall ranking as Libe and Athene, very narrowly missed out on the Novice Final, too, so it was a very successful day.

This weekend, six of our students participated in the Durham Schools’ Debating Competition, a residential event that took place over two days. Nadia, Jane, Nicole, Charlotte, Phoebe and Edie all performed brilliantly in a series of five debates. At the end of the weekend, Nicole was ranked as one of the top 10 novice speakers, while Edie and Phoebe were one of the top 10 novice pairs. Our highest-performing speaker was Nadia, who came in the top 16% of speakers overall, while Jane and Nadia, as a pair, came in the top 25% of teams – all of the girls should be commended for their commitment and determination.

Debating within school continues apace. We held the second SHHS Friendly Debating Competition in March, with teams from the Jewish Free School, St. Marylebone School, Claremont High School, Eastbury School and University College School joining us for a three-round event, separated into a Junior and a Senior Competition. We were joined by Michael Hepburn, our Debating Coach, Joe Dyer, an extremely accomplished debater and former coach, and Gary Blaker QC, a barrister, former debater and South Hampstead parent, as our esteemed Senior Competition judges. The winning team in the Senior Competition was from UCS and the team in second place was from South Hampstead (Jane, Nadia and Juliana). The top three students on individual speaker points, out of the 24 competitors, were Nadia (first), Jane (second) and Juliana and (joint third with a UCS student). The winning team in the Junior Competition was from South Hampstead (Julia, Louise and Sophie).The girls performed brilliantly and Petra and Sarya in the Lower Sixth were wonderful as judges of the Junior Competition, assisted by three Year 7 students.

We also held a very busy week of House Debating this term, with forty students participating in five British Parliamentary debates over the course of the week. More students also took part as judges. The students debated a range of motions, including: This house would prevent former terrorists from standing in elections and This house believes that we should ban all religious primary and secondary schools.

Benton was the overall winning house, with successes in Year 7 for Ines and Natasha; in Year 9 for Alex and Leah; and in the Sixth Form, for Alicia and Jane. In Year 8, Jacqui and Matissa won the debate for Walker; in Year 10, Edie and Phoebe took first place for Bodington. The Sixth Form Debate was particularly exciting, as it took place in a Sixth Form Assembly and was judged by Mrs. Bingham, Mr. Gadgil and Dr. Etheridge. The students debated the motion: This house believes that feminists should always condemn the commodification of the female body. On this challenging topic, the girls gave entertaining, intelligent and confident performances that kept the whole room engaged until the very end. Special praise must go to Juliana, who, despite being in Year 10, stepped up to perform with the Sixth Form, as there was one student missing.

In other news this half term, South Hampstead took two teams of students from Years 7 and 9 to Putney High School to take part in two friendly debates. Putney’s teams will be returning to us for more debates in the summer. Finally, we took six Lower Sixth students to Haberdashers’ Aske’s Boys’ for their annual, three-day Model UN event. As the delegation for Mexico, the students debated resolutions on a range of topical issues.

Next term will be taken up with friendly debates, with fixtures against Putney High School, Channing, The Latymer School, City of London School for Girls and University College School. We will also be hosting the third SHHS Friendly Competition of the year.

It has been a very eventful, successful term for South Hampstead debaters. The girls are to be congratulated on their fantastic performances, as well as their unwavering commitment to debating and continued willingness to speak up and speak out.

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