Debate goes on da-hook. (Jamaican angling pun masks lofty intent regarding debating in schools)

It’s been a few days since I last posted anything, which is not only unlike me but is made starker still by the fact that things have actually been happening. Justine Greening has discovered £1.3 Billion down the back of the sofa, which whilst heartening, smacks of carelessness in the first place but never let it be said that I’m one for grousing and nipping ungratefully at the hand holding the juicy bone. There’s also of course been the revelations at Bath University of the obscene amount of money being paid to senior staff – a further argument if ever one were needed against the spiralling fee structure that universities are encouraging. The GCSE overhaul that everyone agrees is a tawdry and sordid undertaking that will make our children dumber and more insular as a result of having to endure it and many other things.

However, I’m not going to focus on that, because these are unpleasant confections, a delicious everton mint wrapped around dog waste and that’s not what the blog is for. This is for sharing uplifting and joyous communique to make you, my dear readers, a select, but I like to think selective, bunch think positively about the world you inhabit. Which is why I’m so pleased to announce that this week marks the confirmation of the business being brought in to a school in a deprived area in Stoke-on-Trent to design and establish a debating programme.


Now – you may ask yourself why I consider this important. The simple reason is ambition. Debating has definitely picked up a head of steam in the last few years but as is often the case, more so in environments where you would expect to see it in any case. This school is low on opportunity but high on ambition. Running in a deprived area, with students who often see no future through education, the new head has been working tirelessly to try and change that culture and create one where students don’t simply get through education but see in it, its transformative power and its ability to grant them life chances.

Debating, like the spelling bee is now being used as an exercise to promote confidence, thought, pride, diligence, competition, ambition and literacy. What started out as an refereed argument about often prosaic subjects has been elevated to an agent of social change. Or so I hope. Either way ambition for school is a gateway drug for ambitious students. So bring on the arguments!

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