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Debate-Ed Programme – Progress so Far

The Debate-Ed programme has come to the end of its summer/autumn run and will now be on break until early January. Consequently, this is a good opportunity to take stock of what has been achieved so far.

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Interactive workshops

Prestfelde School, Priory School and Meole Brace School have all had students take part in our interactive workshops. Students have debated a wide range of topics including the use of Photoshop, capping salaries, the use of doping within sport, human rights and feminism. Students have sometimes been given the option of choosing which side they are on and to express their own opinion, and at other times have been allocated a side and pushed to carefully analyse the potential arguments they could make, even if this is against their natural inclination.

Effective counter arguments

The purpose of all this is to help students to develop vital skills. Students have been taught in particular about the importance of making effective counter arguments when debating. To do this well, students need to listen to their opponent, identify their key points and then explain why their opponent is wrong and why they are right. This is an extremely useful skill and is essentially what distinguishes debating from speech making. It requires students to think more deeply about what their opponent has said and how to react quickly to a developing argument.

To be a good debater, you cannot simply write a speech hours before the debate and then read out your speech verbatim. You need instead to react to the other speakers and counter their points.

This skill is particularly relevant within the legal industry as whether you are a barrister or a solicitor, you will always need to be able to react quickly to what is being said and to respond to any developments appropriately. Just as no debate is the same, similarly no case is ever the same. It is not possible to simply churn out the usual answers and hope for the best. You need to tailor your answers to the facts in front of you and be able to deal with whatever surprises there are along the way.

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Thank you to all involved

Overall I am really proud of the Debate-Ed programme and the skills it is teaching students across Shropshire. I would especially like to thank the students from Sixth Form College who give up their time to lead these workshops and have done a fantastic job this year. I would also like to thank the schools and teachers involved. Their support for the programme has been phenomenal and it is great to see us reaching more and more students.

When Debate-Ed returns, we will be hosting both a debating competition and also inviting the students who have completed the Core Programme to complete an English Speaking Board debating qualification.

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