English-Speaking Union Schools’ Mace Debating Competition

Senior School
20 Nov 19

On the evening of Tuesday 19th November, our Senior School debating travelled to Tonbridge School to participate in the first round of the ESU Mace Debating competition.  With former national finalists, Sevenoaks School and Bennett Memorial School also competing in this round, we knew it would be a tough night ahead.

Our team, made up of Tarik Abed, Juliet De Banzie and Will Chambers, had to oppose the motion that trial by jury should be abolished.  Having researched the topic and constructed their arguments under the careful guidance of Mr Ellmers, we were ready to take on our opponents, St. Simon Stock Catholic School.  Firstly, Juliet outlined very effectively the history of trial by jury and explained that this system is being used all over the world.  St. Simon Stock, however, suggested that AI machines could replace humans in the future.  Will then presented his argument, outlining why trial by jury is much fairer than trial by any other method (including by judge or magistrate).  Finally, Tarik closed the debate by summarising our main points. 

I was extremely proud of our SVS team who had worked so hard in the lead up to this competition and did an exceptionally good job on the night.  Although we won our debate, sadly, we did not do enough to go through to the next round.  Previous finalists, Sevenoaks School, who had proposed to make voting compulsory, were the overall winners of the night, being more persuasive than the Benenden team.  Our hosts, Tonbridge School, who spoke about limiting each person to one return flight per year, lost their debate to Bennett Memorial School. 

After three hours of intense competition, the only debate on the way back to School focused on popular fast food outlets, visits to which have become a perk of being in the debating team!

Julie Manning

Head of Public Speaking and Debating