The last 18 months have seen the return of Habs to competing in and winning silver and novice finals at major debating competitions. On 3 October, four teams from Habs competed in the online Imperial Schools debating competition. The boys were given the target of going one step further and reaching a gold final.
All four teams performed admirably, and Habs finished with 2 teams in the top 8 – only Eton finished with more, and we outperformed traditional debating powerhouses like Dulwich and Westminster.
Om and Aarnav finished joint second, reaching a gold final for the first time, having accrued 10 points. Manav and Ahan reached the silver final, finishing joint fourth, having fallen one point short of making it two Habs teams in the gold final – in the end missing out on the gold final. Nevertheless, Ahan was our top speaker at the competition in terms of his individual points score, finishing 16th overall. The coach of another leading independent school described their performance as ‘excellent’.
Whilst the pupils didn’t win either final, getting so far in the competition is a significant achievement and a sign of our significant recent improvements in debating as a school. It was also tremendous experience for the students as a team. After the final, Om was upbeat: "We'll get them next time."
This improvement has been achieved by the boys' commitment, their sharpening of each other during our co-curricular debating clubs, their increased seriousness in their attitude to debating in our co-curricular activities and at competitions, and attending top competitions more regularly where we learn from excellent judging and tough competition.
The motion in the final was extremely tricky: ‘Assuming it was technologically feasible, this house would force couples that have decided that they want a child to flip a coin to decide which partner carries and delivers their baby’. Opening Government established a principle about equality and tried to redraw lines for rights in order to rebut the Opening Opposition points about bodily autonomy and choice. Om and Aarnav struggled to see an alternate angle to approach the debate from, and so built their case around impacting what Opening Government said - they gave mechanisation to how tangible change would be achieved, why it was needed, and what it looked like. It was an extremely difficult debate, being very hard to differentiate sufficiently from the opening half, but Om and Aarnav gave the best speeches they could, using all the practice and structure they had gained from the school and previous competitions. Aarnav commented: "Having broken through that daunting barrier of reaching a gold final, we hope to win sometime in the future."
All of the Habs teams experienced some success: Lucas and Keshav came joint 17th on a total of seven points, whilst Fola and Alex came joint 37th on a total of five points from their four debates. This was particularly good experience for Keshav, Fola and Alex, who were two to three years younger than most of the speakers at the competition. We can look forward to seeing them continue to progress in the next few years.
As heartening as these performances at competitions have been, perhaps most encouraging for the future of debating here is the increased commitment the boys demonstrate from week to week. Year 9 debating has swelled to 25 boys, and Year 10 currently have 15 debaters.
The School is very excited regarding it's future in debating. Congratulations to all those that participated in the competition.