House Debate 2024

16 March 2024

On Thursday 14 March, pupils from the Upper School and Sixth Form took part in the annual House Debating Competition. The girls took on challenging and thought-provoking motions to see which House would be crowned the winners. 

We were honoured to welcome High Court Judge Sir Michael Burton, GBE to adjudicate. He was extremely impressed by the standard achieved and took time to give frank and constructive feedback to each participant. 

The competition opened with the Junior Round. Trinity (Upper Fourth, AGN) and Gigi (Upper Fourth, AGS) argued the motion This House Believes that Religious Studies should be a compulsory GCSE. Both girls debated eloquently and persuasively, with Trinity taking the win for AGN.  

The Intermediate Round saw the Lower Fifth tackle the motion This House would under no circumstances fight for its King and Country. Olivia and Alice (Holcombe), Sasha and Abigail (Tedworth), Pippa Drysdale and Margaret (AGS), and Bella and Lorna (Aisholt) each argued with poise and passion on a motion which was originally debated at the Oxford Union in 1933. In the Downe House 2024 iteration of this motion, the win went to the Opening Government team of Bella and Lorna in Aisholt.  

The Senior Round saw Helena (Lower Sixth, Aisholt), Katie (Lower Sixth, Aisholt), Tanya (Lower Sixth, AGN), Izzy (Upper Sixth, AGN), Tacita (Upper Sixth, AGS), Ju-Eun (Lower Sixth, AGS) represent the Sixth Form. Margaret and Pippa (Lower Fifth, AGS) returned to take on a second debate. The Senior motion was The House believes Referendums are a flawed form of democracy. It was a closely fought competition, but the victors were AGN in Opening Government, winning the Galbraith Cup for Senior Debating.  

Our winners were Trinity (AGN), Bella and Lorna (Aisholt), Izzy and Tanaya (AGN) with Sasha (Holcombe). Congratulations must also go to our chairs for their professionalism – Zion (Holcombe) from Lower Sixth and Lara (Aisholt), Louise (AGS), Charlotte (AGS) from Upper Fourth.

All teams argued with intelligence, clarity and conviction; however, there were stand-out performances. The award for Best Overall Debater went to Sasha (Lower Fifth, Holcombe) for her impassioned speech for Opening Opposition, in which she argued with flair and sophistication.

We were all in awe at Margaret, Tam and Pippa (Lower Fifth, AGS) who admirably stepped up to support the Senior Round – and more than held their own! Following feedback from our judge in the Intermediate Round to include a quote to make an argument more impactful, Pippa closed her Senior speech with a quote from herself – it was witty, clever and really impressed our judge!

Debating is a key part of the Downe House enrichment offering, with a weekly club and various debates and workshops with Radley College taking place throughout the year. A huge thank you goes to Mr Matthews (Teacher of Classics) and Mrs Reichardt (Director of Scholars and Academic Enrichment, Teacher of French) for the enormous amount of time and effort they dedicated to preparing the girls and organising the competition over the last two terms. Thank you also to Izzy and Tacita who provided invaluable mentoring and coaching to younger years.  

Click here to explore Academic Enrichment at Downe House.

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