March 10th was an exciting day in the year’s debating calendar. After months of preparation and anticipation the Oxford Schools Finals Day had arrived. Schools from all over the British Isles as well as the Netherlands, Slovenia and Hong Kong congregated at the prestigious university for an intense day of debate.
The Institute’s team, made up of Caitlin Young (5th) and Kurt Scott (5th), had already fought off stiff competition in January to earn one of the limited and much coveted positions from Ireland.
Finals Day began early, at 8.15am, and was scheduled to only finish at 9pm. All the student debaters came prepared for a long day of high calibre debating. The main hub of activity centred on the Oxford Union. After registration in the Goodman Library all the debaters flooded into the debating chamber. It would be here that long lists of locations, debating position and motions would be displayed. Throngs off eager competitors would push forward to see where they were assigned only to rush off to prepare once the debate’s topic was announced.
Due to the scale of the competition locations were spread out over the city so every team had to prepare as they scurried through the narrow streets, striving to use every moment of their precious 15 minute prep time. Students darted past Oxford’s landmarks discussing how they would argue their side on topics like political dynasties, private medicine and ‘tiger’ parenting.
The day proved to be both tense and exhilarating. The standard of discussion was exceptionally high and while our team did not make it to the final it proved a valuable learning experience. It is no meagre achievement to earn a place in Finals Day and our students put in a remarkable performance. The opportunity to experience Oxford, chat to current students there and take part in such a renowned competition was great. This was an event that they will be telling their peers about for years to come.