The Blue Coat A Team won the Novice Final and was ranked as the highest team in its category in the London School of Economics Schools’ Debating Competition. The B Team also won two debates. The revamped Debating Society, led by its founder Year 13 student Abhijith Subramanian, comprised Ben Silva, Joe Keeble and Suad Jumeh, who beat very experienced tough rival teams including Eton and Westminster.
The Society is already basking in its success from reaching the Grand Final of another major schools’ debating competition at Warwick University, reaching the last four out of 80 teams. Abhijith achieved fifth place as individual speaker (the highest of any novice) and Ben was ranked 13th out of 163 entrants.
“I am very proud as this was unprecedented for a novice team and we were up against the big established public schools in both competitions and they put a lot of resources into these events,” said Abhijith, who is taking History, Politics and Economics A Levels.
“Blue Coat has always had a Debating Society tradition, but I have created a new after school institution with a more formal structure. The idea is to teach debating skills, like how to speak in public, phraseology, quickly constructing an argument, analysing issues, arguing alternative points of view, how to talk for five minutes and modern history.
“Debating as a sport is very high pressure and we’ve had some trial runs to work out a concept. I went round school recruiting and advertising the society and we have a lunch time society with 40-50 members and an after school group of 8-12 students for a couple of hours.”
Abhijith’s debating career took off in his mid-teens when he won a £500 bursary to attend the English-Speaking Union Debate Academy at Uppingham School, Rutland. Most of his skills are self-taught, helped by YouTube videos.
Besides this he is also Liverpool Young Labour Party’s Ethnic Officer and has started the School’s Mental Breakdown Society for students to discuss their anxieties and worries with others.
He plans to enter politics and believes debating will aid this, adding: “Debating is about learning life skills, getting a broader perspective to interpret the world around you and learning to take on leadership roles.”