Wednesday 2 July 2014, Justine Brian

Grimsby takes on the world

Franklin College are Debating Matters Champions 2014!

Congratulations to Franklin College from Grimsby for securing the title of ‘Champions 2014’ at the Debating Matters National Final, held last weekend at the British Library.

As someone who has been helping to co-ordinate the competition in both the UK and India for 10 years I could go on forever about how inspiring and refreshing it is getting teenagers debating some of the most difficult contemporary challenges in society. Fortunately, one of the teachers has put it better than I ever could. In reaction to his team’s winning of the title, teacher Marcus Smith-Connor said of Franklin’s experience:

“As you can imagine the students were absolutely buzzing on the journey home even though the full scale of their achievement hadn’t really sunk in. The competition has provided these students with a series of memories that will last a lifetime; I’m already looking forward to next year’s competition!

“Debating Matters is much more than just a competition, it is a process which for some students spans two years and totally changes what and how they think. By creating a forum in which ideas, arguments and evidence are sovereign and providing expert judges to evaluate the merits of the students’ positions, the competition is effectively an intellectual hothouse in which the ideals of democratic participation - respect, tolerance, a belief in the power of analytical argument - become a living reality. Anyone concerned about the future of democracy in the UK should have spent the weekend at the National Final as the knowledge, passion and commitment of the debaters was enough to assuage even the most sceptical of observers.”

Marcus’ sentiments were echoed by the competition’s high-profile judges. Dr Jeremy Farrar OBE, director of the Wellcome Trust, said:
“It takes real skill to take a motion and a position that you did not choose and then convey such passion in the argument….The clarity of thought and humour that they are able to keep up in very stressful circumstances was certainly notable.”

Mary Curnock Cook, chief executive of UCAS and one of the judges who awarded a close victory to Franklin over London’s Graveney School in the final, said the competition as a whole was:
“...great preparation for further academic study and for their (students) professional lives.”

For full details of this year’s National Final, all the results, the drama and some great pictures, see our news item about Franklin College’s win and take a look at more images on the competition’s Facebook page.

Good luck to Franklin College as they take on DM India winners PSBB Senior Secondary School, KK Nagar, Chennai at the International Final, taking place at the Battle of Ideas on Saturday 18 October.

CONTACT Justine Brian





Battle of Ideas 2014

10:00am, Saturday 18 October 2014, The Barbican, London


Debating Matters National Final 2014

6:30pm, Friday 27 June 2014, British Library, London

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Battle of Ideas 2018

13 & 14 October 2018, The Barbican, London