As we watch politicians battle it out in debates in the lead up to the election, a little closer to home, Year 13 pupils are helping Year 5 pupils perfect their debating skills as part of our nationally recognised outreach programme. 

As part of the leadership opportunities available in the Sixth Form, three of Year 13 pupils head over to Arbourthorne Primary School every Monday to join the Year 5 pupils in their Debating Club working alongside their teacher, Mr. Holdsworth. Through various games and practice debates, the girls help the children develop key skills such as articulation, confidence, persuasion, and critical thinking.

Every week, the pupils enjoy a variety of activities that practice the art of debating. Students are introduced to ‘rebuttal’, the form of 'points of information' which can be offered during speeches. The pupils can then use their rebuttal as an opportunity to develop spontaneous speaking and quick-thinking from both speakers. The students are also challenged to carefully pick apart the arguments of the opposing teams, allowing them to create stronger arguments themselves by spotting flaws in their own speeches. 

During the sessions, our Sixth Form girls also ensure each child can practice writing a speech and delivering an argument that is clearly analysed. Each child gives a speech up to 7 minutes, finishing with each team nominating one speaker from their team to take part in a final debate in which they present a four-minute summary along with responding to questions from the audience. The skills gained during these sessions will help them in English classes, everyday life, as well as in their SATs next year. 

Our Debating Club is delivered in preparation for a Sheffield-wide debating competition amongst primary schools. The programme is mutually beneficial for both the primary school pupils and our Sixth Form volunteers with everyone really enjoying the sessions: 

“We love debating because we get to talk about really interesting topics like bullying, the queen, and homework!” Adra, Year 5, Arbourthorne Primary School. 

“Watching the kids grow in confidence and knowing that you were a part of that is something really heartwarming. For me, it’s even more rewarding because I get to form an even closer bond to the students that I work with on the SHINE project.” Mia Venables, Sheffield Girls’ Sixth Form.