This year’s number one Year 12 team followed their success in getting into the Year 12 finals last year by winning the Grand Final of the QDU competition on 26 August. The team of Sasha Brady, Meg Breen, Katelyn Lamont, Matilda Stevenson and Emma Sudron defeat Brisbane Grammar and Gregory Terrace before beating the previously undefeated Sandgate District State High School to get into the final. After coming out of a chemistry exam at 4.30pm, they took on Brisbane Girls’ Grammar at 6.30pm and gained a 3-0 unanimous decision by affirming the topic, “We regret the focus on tertiary education in developed countries”. This is a great achievement for these girls and they have set the bar very high for the next generation of QASMT debaters. Their performance is a tribute to themselves and to Ms Jan Sparrow, who built this team in Year 11.
This year’s Year 11 teams had mixed success, but once again we had one team get through to the second round of the finals. Hopefully the extra year of experience will allow them to go further next year. I think all teams benefited from debating becoming a CAS option for the first time this year.
Debating allows students to hone their analytical skills and ability to control a line of argument: skills which apply to many of their subject areas. The ability to think quickly and speak confidently in front of an audience are life-long skills which I know the participants will use again. In 2016 our students will have the opportunity to debate again and I hope that some of the Year 12 students will continue their debating at university level.
We began the year with an influx of Year 10 students keen to debate for the school. As we had little knowledge of their debating expertise we randomly allocated them into four teams and added those students who were completely new to the activity. The large numbers allowed us to rotate members for each competition and it soon became clear there was a hard core of dedicated quality debaters we could work with.
Over the year we saw strong improvements in some of the new members and a refining of the talents of established ones. One of our teams quickly became a force and went through the entire preliminary phases with only one loss. Another team was very unlucky not to also go through. The first team progressed to the quarter finals before losing by three points to a very slick and experienced Gregory Terrace team.
I hope this year’s debaters will continue into next year and build on the work they have done so far. It is an activity that has so much value for the participants, not only in developing confidence, but also in developing and enhancing an oral skill set that will serve them very well in assessment tasks in their school subjects and beyond. The ability to formulate a clear and logical argument and support it with valid evidence is an important life skill and, as any cursory glance at our media will tell you, one that is sadly lacking in our public discourse. I am looking forward to next year already.
Kerry Hasell, Debating Coach 2015