On Wednesday 07 December Year 13 BMS students Emily Ireland and Zak Mounter won the Office of the Bedfordshire Police and Crime Commissioner (OPCC) Schools’ Debating competition, defending the title for the School for the second consecutive year
The competition, open to pairs of students aged 15-18 from the same school, was established in 2021 by Bedfordshire Police and Crime Commissioner Festus Akinbusoye as a way to boost local students’ public speaking and debating skills. During each round, participants are informed of the designated motion ten days in advance of their debate, as well as the stance they will be taking.
Initial rounds took place in early November and were open to schools in Luton, Central Bedfordshire and Bedford. This was followed by the semi-finals, hosted at Bedford Police Headquarters.
The final round took place in the prestigious Grand Committee room at Westminster, a secondary debating chamber within the House of Lords, secured as the venue for the competition by North East Bedfordshire MP Richard Fuller. This saw Emily and Zak up against strong teams from Sandy Secondary School and Stockwood Park Academy. The debate was centred around how to decrease debts accumulated in the United Kingdom during the COVID-19 pandemic and Zak and Emily’s given position was to argue for raising taxes to decrease these debts, as opposed to the other teams, who were arguing to borrow to invest or cut public spending.
Emily explained: “I opened the whole debate and was the first speaker which is very nerve-wracking, but it allowed me to lay the debate out in a way which would benefit us most, giving me the confidence to intervene the opposition with hard questions about their motions. When we found out we had won we were both shocked as the opposition argued extremely well and it was very close. We were really happy and so were our supporters who came down to London with us.”
Stuart Baker, Head of Politics at BMS, added: “I am thrilled for Zak and Emily. They were so impressive in their research, the delivery of their arguments and the way they rebutted the opposition – and to do it all in Parliament was an amazing opportunity. It is fantastic for BMS to win the trophy in successive years.”
The esteemed panel of judges included Mr Akinbusoye and his Deputy Ian Dalgarno, the High Sheriff of Bedfordshire Lady Jane Clifford, Chief Crown Prosecutor for the region Jaswant Narwal and Paul Mackin from Shefford Town Council.