My Debating Journey

We asked Iain Lynn from Bassingbourn Village College, Grand Finalist in our first ever PiXL Up For Debate Championships to tell us about his subsequent debating journey and to give his advice to this year’s competitors who are wondering where to take their debating next. 

Hello, if you are reading this then that means one great thing – you’ve already started your debating career!

For some of you, your school may have a proud history of debate and oracy, but for others – like me – you may never have been in a competition before.

2 years ago I was part of a team from Bassingbourn Village College – we are a small rural state school in South Cambridgeshire with absolutely no history of debating. We entered the Up For the Debate competition and amazed everyone (including ourselves!) by coming second at the national finals at Eton College. But really it’s not important where you end up in the competition and, to risk a cliché, it’s about taking part – the taking part allows competitors to improve themselves and just to have fun debating.

Winning may be nice but it’s not the be-all-and-end-all. What is important however is to keep debating, I cannot stress how important this stage is, or how easy it really is.

At first it may seem impossible to find other competitions, but there are organisations, such as the English-Speaking Union (ESU, who provide 75% of competitions in rural England) who I am happy to say I have fostered a strong bond with, even to the stage of being asked to speak for them at meetings, outside of competitions!

What the ESU and PiXL do is build strong foundations for oracy and public speaking. They allow the opportunity for students to improve themselves, develop the vital life skill that is oracy and dispel their fears – can you believe that public speaking is the #1 fear in England?

To prove this is all very possible, and to help you continue debating, let me tell you what I did after UFD. Firstly, along with some passionate teachers, I set up a debate club at school where I and a few other students could meet, talk, and prepare for the next competition! Then, we got into contact with the ESU and signed up for the national Churchill Public Speaking Competition. Since then I have competed in the Churchill twice, once in the Mace (a debate competition hosted by the ESU), and attended the residential Debate Academy where ESU mentors intensively train you for a week. I was also invited to try out for the national debating team.

The thing I am most excited about is a twitter campaign I launched earlier this year – I have pledged to tweet 100 reasons for Oracy’s importance to mark the 100 year anniversary of the ESU. Feel free to visit me @_iainlynn for more information. In fact it was through my Twitter campaign that Noisy Classroom made contact with me and you are reading this now!

Most recently I volunteered as a mentor at the Churchill Public Speaking Competition National Final.

It’s been an exciting couple of years, and I wouldn’t have started down this thrilling path without UFD. It’s my hope every school keeps debating and gets as much out of it as I have!

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