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A war of the words at Oxford

On March 9 two Sheffield Girls’ debating teams competed at the prestigious Oxford Union for the momentous Oxford Schools Debating Competition Finals Day, fighting for the top spot after the initial gruelling regional rounds in November and months of extensive hard work.

The competition spans across the world and the girls were up against many of the top international teams from Canada, China and Zimbabwe, as well as the best of the UK. Only 116 teams of the initial 850 had the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to go head to head with the most talented young debaters aged 14 - 18.

Each team performed in four initial debates and were marked by expert judges from Oxford. Debates ranged from: ‘This House would legalise the sale and purchase of human organs,’ and ‘This House believes that former colonial countries should increase immigration quotas for countries that they previously colonised.’

Lucia Arce, our excellent Debating Coach, accompanied the teams to Oxford and was an invaluable source of support and feedback as the girls worked on their debates.

Our two teams performed very well, both narrowly missing out on reaching the semi-final, a very admirable achievement considering the number of competitors they were up against. The eventual winners were Westminster School.

Mia and Sakshi from Year 11 said that they had learned so much from the day. “I’ve definitely become a better speaker, and learned from the highly accomplished speakers present as well as from being under a great deal of pressure,” said Mia.

For Beth and Toni in Year 13, it was a chance to reflect, edging away from school debating and moving to the very competitive University Debating Competition which both wish to embrace.

English teacher and debating leader Ms Cox said, “It was a wonderful event, and well worth the fight for those places. We definitely hope that we can replicate our success next year.”

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