Two weeks ago, six students in the Sixth Form (including myself) braved the Oxford Schools’ Debating Competition, self-styled as “the UK’s largest British Parliamentary debating competition”. Hosted by the Oxford Union, an extremely prestigious debating institution, to overcome the mammoth odds to win this competition and thereby compete on the international stage with the world’s foremost (16 year old) debating titans was analogous to David vanquishing Goliath. Sadly, in this instance, Goliath triumphed and none of us qualified for the finals…But do read on, anyway!

In regards to the logistical specifications of the event, the six of us competed as three pairs and took part in two debates. Each debate was of the British Parliamentary format, where four competing pairs each took a distinct role in the debate; if you care to find out what these are, then Google is your friend! From the roughly 40 pairs competing, six were selected for the final round.

The first debate was whether generative AI should supplement learning by students. For my team, I thought it was going great, until one of our competitors leapt out of their seat to deliver what, to my ears at least, was a 500 wpm rap defending ChatGPT.

After the mild bruising of the first debate, we nonetheless ploughed on with the second, on whether what this country needs is affirmative action for men. It was a tough case to argue, but, frankly, I thought the debate went fairly well for my pair, not least because of the competition. One pair shrewdly opted to argue against the proposition by delivering a talk against the 'threat' posed by, you guessed it, transgender swimmers.

To any aspiring debaters in the lower school whose dreams I may have crushed with this sobering account of DCGS's calamitous defeat, I urge you not to give up hope. Despite the result, the evening was a thoroughly enjoyable one. If you are the type of person who has a passion on just about everything, and are willing to defend it – preferably with reason – then debating in the Sixth Form is highly recommended.