Isabella Wilson from Uckfield Community Technology College and Piers Natham from Bede’s Senior School were winners of this year’s Wealden Schools’ Debating Competition set up by Wealden MP Charles Hendry.
The final took place at Bede’s School in Upper Dicker, with teams of sixth form students from Uckfield Community and Technology College, Bede’s Senior School, Michael Hall (Forest Row)and Hailsham Community College.
Maddie Pengelly from Michael Hall, and Thomas Chicken from Hailsham Community College took second place.
The competition took place over two weeks. Eight teams competed during the first week with four making it through to the semi-finals and final.
This year the competitors debated challenging and difficult subjects which covered immigration; prisoners’ rights; religion; EU membership and fracking with a final debate on whether democracy or sanctions are better for resolving international conflicts.
Over the two weeks the judging panel included Charles Hendry MP, East Sussex county councillor Chris Dowling, Uckfield Mayor Cllr Ian Smith and Nusrat Ghani, the Conservative prospective parliamentary candidate.
There was a strong audience, comprised of students from each of the eight schools taking part, who were quick to challenge the debaters when questions opened to the floor.
Cllr Chris Dowling, a member of the judging panel on both weeks, said: “I was very impressed by the quality of the debates, and high standard of research and preparation that went in to presenting their arguments. The results were very very close, congratulations to all involved. A very worthwhile competition and time well spent.”
After a third successful year for the competition, Charles Hendry said: “I look forward to welcoming Piers and Isabella to Parliament for their winners’ tour and lunch, which they thoroughly deserve after such a tough competition.
“Each debate was close, with the students demonstrating a high standard of research and debate for each motion; making it difficult for the judging panel to pick the overall winning team.
“The talent we have seen amongst students has been exceptional with strong debates throughout. Each year the standard gets higher, which makes this competition all the more exciting. Next year will be my last year for hosting the debate, but I hope it is something that the schools will continue in future.”