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From Oxford to Cambridge Schools’ Debating: Tonbridge students excel in both competitions

Tonbridge teams excel in both Oxford and Cambridge Schools’ Debating

Two Tonbridge teams emerged with great credit during Finals Day at the Oxford Schools’ debating competition.

Held on Saturday 9 March and staged in the main debating hall of the Oxford Union, the final was attended by more 100 national and international teams, all of whom had successfully come through a rigorous qualification round. 

There were then a further four preliminary rounds for qualification to the semi-finals of the tournament. 

Upper Sixth students Alex Chan (PH5) and James Tam (MH5) were awarded first place in their semi-final before finishing as runners-up in the grand final, ensuring they were one of the top four teams in the entire tournament. 

The team of Ethan Glucina (PS4) and Max Teh (HS4), from the Lower Sixth, did not qualify for the semi-finals, but finished in the top four of novice entries (teams with no more than one year’s experience of competitive debating). 

As a result, Ethan and Max qualified for the novice final, which they won after arguing against the proposition that romantic partners should rely on their partners for a significant form of mental health support.

Luke Masters, Master in Charge of Debating, said: “Both teams were facing those who debate for their respective national teams, such as England, Scotland and Hungary. All the boys showed tremendous ability to perform under pressure and clearly have bright futures in debating. To win the novice final was the icing on the cake.”

Oxford Schools’, aimed at students aged between 14 and 18, is the largest British Parliamentary school-level debate competition in the world, and the largest in the UK. More than 350 schools took part this year. It offers students an opportunity to develop their skills and confidence in public speaking, thoughtful argumentation and analytical problem-solving. 

* The same teams also qualified for the Cambridge Schools' Debating final. This competition has an even more rigorous qualification process, with only 64 schools going through to finals day.

Alex and James, across four rounds of debating, managed to qualify for the grand final, finishing as runners-up. They narrowly lost debating against the proposition that technology-induced immortality would make the world a better place. 

Alex took home the individual award for best English as a Second Language (ESL) speaker in the whole tournament.

Ethan and Max both took joint third out of all novice speakers entering the tournament and scored 7 out of 12 points across the first four rounds, narrowly missing out on qualification to the semi-finals.

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