Highbury Fields School runs a thriving Debate Mate programme for students in Years 7-10. Debate Mate run after-school debating clubs and currently work in 240 primary and secondary schools across the UK. Students in Years 7-10 come for one hour each week after school to learn the art of debating and how to debate in a formal setting. The club is run by specially trained university students and the techniques are delivered through a series of fun and interactive exercises and games. Debating is shown to improve students’ critical and creative thinking, teamwork, leadership, empathy and self-management. Students who have been on the programme see substantial progress in their speaking and listening skills, their engagement with school, and a range of different students have benefited from (and enjoyed!) the club.
As part of the Debate Mate programme, students at Highbury Fields School have been invited to participate in two debating competitions - the Urban Debate League and the Debate Mate Cup. The Urban Debate League involves two rounds of local competitions against other schools, run across two terms. There is also a separate, one-day competition, the Debate Mate Cup. The topics for some of the debates are known in advance to allow for carefully preparation of arguments. The events also involve debates on topics not previously released, which means our teams need to be well-informed on a range of issues and confident to put together high-quality debates under pressure. The overall winners of these competitions go through to the national finals in London held at prestigious locations like the House of Lords and the University of Oxford.
Last year Highbury Fields School entered a range of teams in these competitions - some with lots of debating experience and some complete beginners. Our students won many of their debates against competing schools, and following the two rounds of the Urban Debate League, our 'A' team ranked 15th nationally. This was an amazing achievement and meant that they went through to compete in the national finals.
The Debate Mate club will run after-school clubs on Monday from 3.15-4.15pm for all year groups. Following last year's successes, we have already had a huge level of interest in this year's programme and we are really excited to see our debating club at Highbury Fields grow and flourish.