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Knightsbridge School Debating & Public Speaking (Enrichment programme) & Club - 5th & 8th February

Updated: Mar 19

It has been a pleasure to provide Debating for the Enrichment programme at Knightsbridge school for the first half of term and to see the excellent progress made by the group. This week on skills we covered speaking with 'conviction' and with particular emphasis on affirmative tone, active voice, and careful vocabulary choice.


Our warm up question asked:

What would you like to be when you are older?

We had an amazing selection in both the Enrichment session and the Club, of ideas including inter alia surgeons and doctors, politicians, producers, pilots, fashion designers, technology entrepreneurs, and business leaders, architects, to football and cricket players.  

Our newsround saw topics raised from the King's health, to the Middle East, football headlines and more local UK news on crime and prison sentences. 

Our key debates looked at the motions:

(i) On the back of the Senate in the US and their questioning of major Social Media and AI companies last week, including Mark Zuckerberg. We asked who is responsible for child safety online?

We presented the group with three options: Technology companies; Government; Family/Parents. 

In each telling the majority voted for technology companies, but throughout the discussion and debate it was acknowledged that all three had their roles to play. We split into three groups to tackle this motion, with each one representing one of the options (regardless of their own personal opinions). It was super to see students arguing against themselves with such conviction! Tremendous debating skills on display. 

We also asked: 'Are we being too negative on technology, social media and AI at present?'

Here again the feeling was (particularly in healthcare) that we are, but that more needed to be done to keep children safe online and to harness the benefits of technology in education more generally. 

(ii) Our second motion looked at a ban on plastic water bottles. 

Here the voting split between those in favour on a gradual basis (provided drinking water improved) with those against arguing that more energy would be used to find plastic alternatives, or indeed a more recyclable plastic would be the option. 

In the Club session we asked:

(i) 'This House would Walk to school'.

We provided a multiple choice poll/vote to see how our group travels thus far, with a split across: walking, cycling and scooting, travelling by car, and public transport options. 

Following a lively discussion on the health benefits of walking, it was felt by the group that at least a majority of school runs should be made on foot. That said, it was also argued that for many distance, childcare costs, disability, and practicality with multiple children going to different schools and the safety of walking for children, made it impossible for now to see the figure move much higher. Some felt that the school day could be adjusted to make provision for those walking from further away. Time and again the safety of our streets was raised/mentioned - a big topic/pointer for those in charge of London (both politicians and police).

(ii) 'This House prefers packed lunches to school lunches'.

Here the voting was relatively split - with lots of recognition for the nutritional benefits of school lunches (following BMJ Open data) whilst at the same time plenty of discussion that there would be less waste with packed lunches as this involved food preferences. The question of enough variety for those with allergies or other dietary requirements also moved many to favour a packed lunch option  Focus and attention for afternoon sessions remained at the forefront of the debate with it being critical to have a healthy lunch for a healthy mind (mens sana in corpore sano).

Another outstanding set of sessions! Well done all. 

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