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Debating at Marling 

I arrived at Marling in 2008 during the building of South Block which involved my first summer term spent preparing for the move to the new English classrooms.

I unearthed many treasures from the safekeeping of dark cupboards; one such was the Marling Literary and Debating book, a fascinating social History of the Marling Debating Society stretching back to 1911.

Each meeting was carefully recorded in neat copper script along with the thrust of the arguments covering topics such as: 

1946 The British Empire is a liability not an asset defeated by 26 votes 

1949 Fox Hunting Souls be abolished defeated by 15 votes   

1950 Too much importance is attached to sport in the modern world defeated by 13 votes and… 

1960 ‘The labour party has no future’ carried by 13 votes.

I re convened the Marling debating Society in 2009 deciding to focus on Parliamentary style debating. Our first competition in Bath did not go too well and the mood in the minibus on our return home was sombre. The boys decided they were not going to let this happen again and embarked on a concerted effort to ensure that Marling School would once again possess a reputation for excellence in the debating world.

The following year we won through to finals day at Cambridge University. Our success was swiftly followed by the same team of Tom Walpole and Josh Edwards finishing in 8th position. Our junior teams competed in the Junior Cambridge University Schools Championship with David Locke and Joe Marshall, our winning combination beating 60 other schools from the whole of the south of England to win a converted place at the Cambridge Union. Teams also entered the European Youth Parliament Debating Competition winning through in their first year to the UK finals at Durham University. From this competition the whole team was selected to represent Great Britain in Sweden and three of the team were invited to join the alumni. Following in their footsteps successive year 12 teams represented Great Britain in Ghent, Antwerp and the Czech Republic. Many went on to become judges crisscrossing Europe to attend competitions. Not to be outdone our junior teams competed at Oxford and as a result of their excellent performance were invited to compete at Eton College which is a regular event. The junior and senior teams decided to enter public speaking competitions reaching the area and British finals respectively with Jamie Arthur and Tobias Paterson competing at Dartmouth House, London.

Debating at Marling has not only allowed the boys to demonstrate their oratorical skills but has imbued them with a sense of confidence and self-worth in a huge variety of social situations. They see themselves as firstly a team, but secondly as representatives of the school and the very foundations on which it was established. It has been a great privilege to be involved in the society and I feel sure that the proud tradition of debating at Marling will continue for generations to follow.

Jayne Southwell


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April 2019 next


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