Gillingham School students debate in parliament


Daniel Matterface (far right) and Elijah Wood (adjacent) in the House of Lords Debate

Public Speaking is an important skill and staff at Gillingham school are very keen to give students the skills – and opportunity – to express their opinions and ideas. On Friday 15th March, eight members of the school public speaking team were invited to the House of Lords Debate, hosted by the charity Debating Matters. Schools were picked from across the country and Gillingham were one of only four schools invited to take part.
The debates were on current and contentious issues:
Does ‘cancel culture’ threaten freedom of speech?
Do billionaires’ ownership of media organisations pose a threat to democracy?
Should museums repatriate cultural artefacts?
One of the sixth formers said that they enjoyed the ‘emphasis on interrogation by the judges and the interesting topics.’
The speakers from Gillingham – Elijah Wood and Daniel Matterface – made a brave argument in the semi-final on cancel culture, and were praised for their quick thinking, bold lines of argument and nuanced answers to the judges’ questions. However they didn’t quite do enough to proceed to the next round. Elijah said that ‘the method of debate felt civil and information driven, like a disagreement being resolved.’
It was a wonderful experience for everyone to watch the teams debate and then to get involved in the floor debates, asking questions to the teams. Lucy Wrench was singled out as worthy of a Honourable Mention, as the judges enjoyed her contributions and questions.
Besides the debating, the students made the most of their day out, and were given a fantastic tour of the House of Lords. Lucy described it as ‘interesting, engaging, informative and inspiring.’
No teacher could ask for more!

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