My last blog proudly celebrated the fact that we have far more in common with the independent sector than just an attractive entrance....

Park House School Newbury 

Our students' achievements of last week more than confirm my perspective on our provision!

Regular visitors to this site will recall that, in November, our Year 12 Debating Team of Heather Barr, Gareth Carless, Tom Davies, Sam Forrest, Will Matthews entered the Berkshire round of the national 'Debating Matters' competition.

It was the first time a Park House Team had entered the competition.

They won.

Park House Debating Matters Winning Team

On Thursday, the team travelled to the majestic setting of Cumberland Lodge, a former residence of the Queen Mother, for the Southern Regional Final against opposition exclusively from the independent and selective sectors.

Cumberland Lodge Debating Matters Venue

They won. Again.

What makes this achievement so special is the structure of the competition and the challenge that it poses. It is a round robin tournament, with schools preparing to propose or oppose three motions. The winning schools from the earlier debates then face each other in a final. Judges assess both the quality of argument advanced by the pair of students from each school and their ability to present with authority and conviction. Our team had to prepare motions on subjects as diverse as morality of animal testing, the impact of 'Lads Mags' and the environmental consequences of intensive mining!

The competition is therefore a test of so many skills that are central to effective learning in a wider context, and is why I'm so very proud of their achievement: research, organisation, presentation, teamwork... And the intellectual dexterity needed to think on you feet and respond to the arguments thrown at you.

Debating Matters Southern Area Final Winners

Our team of Gareth, Will, Sam, Heather and Tom, with their coach Mr David Hammond

All I can say is don't argue with them!

Unlike the members of our team, I'm speechless at what they have achieved!