Debating the Issues

The Debating Society at NULS is a super curricular activity coordinated by Mr Preston (Religious Studies and Philosophy) and Ms Marrable-Griffiths (English). We talked to Mr Preston and Nikhita, one of our leading debaters, to explain why this curricular activity is such an enriching experience.

Our Debating Society at NULS determines a set of objectives at the start of each year that they will then endeavour to achieve as a team. This year’s objectives were to raise pupils’ confidence, and to become even more competitive. The social aspect of the club is perceived as part of the appeal with pupils supporting all ages and levels of experience - a real sense of camaraderie naturally develops.

Pupils who take part in the Debating Society develop their argumentation, confidence and research and public speaking skills, all great to evidence their personal development when applying to higher education courses. Furthermore, the pupils told us that they develop an appreciation for different points of view; critical thinking and improved listening and leadership skills. There is a drive to explore the world around them evidentially, improve research capacity and cultivate empathy of diverse perspectives, besides their own.

Nikhita, a Lower Sixth debater, is currently studying Maths, English, Latin and Government and Politics, as well as completing the Extended Project Qualification. Here she outlines how participating in the debating society has benefited her skills and development.

 “I have taken part in a great number of debates, as part of Debating Society. At the Staffordshire Youth Debate I won the prize of best speaker. I took part in the ESU Mace, a prestigious, long-running National competition consisting of prepared debates, and my team have been shortlisted as reserves for the finals. I particularly enjoyed The Oxford Schools’ Debate competition, founded by Oxford University to test students’ unprepared ‘British Parliamentary’ style debate skills. It was brilliant and I would love to do more of this type of thing as ‘unprepared debate’ is a much sought after and difficult to acquire skill that will really assist progression into my chosen career. I hope to go on to University to study Politics and International Relations, with a long-term goal of working in a more academic style role within politics such as a researcher. I know my debating skills will set me up well for this - good communication, an interest in politics, an analytical mind, the ability to remain calm under pressure, problem-solving skills and good research skills, all strengthened by participation in the NULS Debating Society.”

Mr Preston was asked for his comment on working with the Debating Society. He says, “It is something that I am privileged and proud to be involved in, observing close hand the growing skill, maturity and confidence of many young pupils”.



NULS pupils enter a number of prestigious competitions in Debating and Public Speaking, including:

  • The Rotary Youth Speaks - where pupils are encouraged to challenge their public speaking abilities and perform, persuade and entertain the audience with a display of wit and knowledge of a topic.

  • The English-Speaking Union’s Schools’ Mace  - the largest debating competition for Years 9 – 13  in England, which hones students’ debate skills in a fun, competitive environment.

  • The English-Speaking Union’s Churchill Public Speaking Competition – the largest public speaking competition for Years 9 -11 in England and Wales, with around 400 teams annually.

  • Oxford Schools’ Debating Competition - parliamentary style debate, run by the Oxford Union, it is the largest debating competition in the UK, aimed at older students.