Withington wins the Debating Matters National Final!

Sunday evening, 30th June 2013

Hot off the press!

Debating Matters National Final Winners 

The news has just come through that Withington's debating team – Alice
Beardsworth, Harriet MacLeod, Sheanna Patelmaster and Hunadda Sabbagh –
have won The Institute of Ideas Debating Matters National Final held at University College
London and the Royal Society of Medicine today. Congratulations to all in winning through against extremely strong competition!

National Debating Winners!


Mentored by Teacher of English, Miss Nadine West, the Withington team have also won £2000 worth of books for the School Library from headline prize sponsor Hodder Education, and some exciting prizes for themselves, as well as an all-expenses paid trip to London in the Autumn to take part in the Debating Matters UK v India International Final, competing against this year's winners of Debating Matters India.

The team had triumphed in the North West & North Wales Regional Final this Spring and were representing the region  in the National Final – dubbed ‘the toughest debating competition in the UK'.

Sponsored in the North West & North Wales Region by Unilever, whose staff helped judge many of this year's debates, Amanda Sourry, Chairman of Unilever UK & Ireland said of their support:

"Debating Matters drives debate around issues that are of paramount importance to future generations. It's inspiring to hear young people tackle challenging questions and come up with thought-provoking, mature debates. Honing this skill undoubtedly helps to mould these young adults into the leaders of tomorrow."

At the National Final today, the Withington girls were pitted against top name judges, who put students through their paces with tough questions and critical feedback. Judges and guests at the National Final this year included: Professor Sir Michael Rawlins, president of the Royal Society of Medicine and former chairman of the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE); David Aaronovitch, columnist for The Times; and Ann Furedi, chief executive of the British Pregnancy Advisory Bureau (BPAS).

Topics up for debate looked at some of the most difficult and challenging issues facing society including whether trade not aid is the way to help developing countries, if the British press require tougher regulation after the The Leveson Inquiry, state funding of the arts, the UK's place in the EU, and the provision of IVF treatment for older women.

In addition to the nine debates held over the course of the weekend, Claire Fox, director of the Institute of Ideas, chaired a special Question Time style debate, with guests including Lord Boateng, the UK's first black Cabinet Minister and former British High Commissioner to South Africa, distinguished psychiatrist Professor Sir Simon Wessely and Jo Phillips, journalist and former press secretary to Paddy Ashdown.

The Institute of Ideas Debating Matters Competition is a national Sixth Form debating competition involving over 250 schools and more than 1500 students across the country. Challenging young people to engage in robust debate about real world issues, Debating Matters insists that students are up to the task of doing some in-depth research and having their arguments held up to adult scrutiny. Each debate includes judges in the discussion, who ask students challenging questions, engage them in debate, and push them to substantiate their case.

Margaret Mistry, Communications Manager at headline sponsors Statoil, the Norwegian energy company, said of their support of the competition:

"We are proud to be Headline Sponsor of Debating Matters, because we believe in making a positive contribution to the development of young people who will shape the future of our world. The success of Statoil is down to individuals with the ability and desire to think critically and creatively, and with the skills and determination to achieve remarkable results. It is individuals like these who hold the key to a successful future for society as a whole."