On Thursday 12th October Mr Shelley and Mrs Norman (English teachers at Comberton Village College) started Comberton Village College’s second debating club. Previously there was a debating club on Wednesday lunchtimes however this was replaced by today’s as the school recognized the growing prevalence of “oracy” (the ability to express yourself fluently and grammatically in speech). The school moved the club to an afterschool club so that it is more available and more in-depth.

Another reason that the club is more formalised now is that after lockdown and covid some of the younger children would have missed a significant part of their emotional maturity development and this space is filled by the debating club and its ability to recreate the missed learning opportunities of childhood.

This means that Mr Shelley and Mrs Norman are delighted that the majority of debating club members are Year 7s and 8s (those who missed these opportunities the most.

Going to competitions is not a major part of the debating club, instead it aims to teach some more real life applications, for instance it prepares students for the real world by teaching them how to speak to people and how to persuade groups.

However one issue that the current attendees of the debating club have is that “they need to listen more” and Mr Shelley went on to say that while the debating clubs most required virtue is that it remains fun (so that it does not feel like a lesson) they need to teach the roughly 25 (fluctuates from week to week) club attendees  to be “disciplined” in how to listen and respond to what people say. 

One point that Mr Shelley particularly pressed was how important debating was that it encouraged listening which was ever important in a world where “the social media mechanism has made people absolute”,  and where people are over-protective of their views it is vital to let people argue.

All in all this is an amazing opportunity for a student at Comberton Village College to learn the core values of debating (such as listening for points you want to answer), some clear strategies for turning an audience (such as exploiting the flaws in logic of the opposition) and to develop some strong public speaking abilities.

It is available to go to after school in English 2 every Thursday, students from any year can just join in.