12 March 2019

John Willmott sets the wheels in motion for debating prize

Articulate John Willmott School students made history last week by securing the secondary’s first victory in the Sutton Coldfield Schools’ Parliamentary Debating Competition.

The popular event – now in its 17th year – took place at Fairfax Academy last Thursday (7 March) and featured schools from the Royal town. Year 12 John Willmott students, Aria Torkpour (pictured below, second right, alongside headteacher Tracey Peters) and Josh Barry (pictured far left, alongside Andrew Mitchell MP), were awarded second place overall, pipped to first place by fellow ATLP school, Arthur Terry.

The pair had to oppose the motion that parents should be able to pick the sex of their babies. They won their first round resoundingly and were then handed the challenging motion ‘this house believes that fox hunting should be reintroduced’. Despite this difficult task, they lost by a whisker telling the story of Josh’s pet chickens that were slaughtered by a fox and the impact that this had on him as a young child. This story moved the audience who heard about the fate of Bella, Freya and Daisy his chickens! They also shared the impact of the fox on the livelihoods of farmers and smallholders to gin the sympathy and votes of the audience.

John Willmott School has not been placed previously in the competition and ambitious staff and students are looking forward to next year when they try to go one better and bring home the silverware. Both students wanted to thank Mr Banks their English teacher who had guided them through developing their debating skills over the last few months as well as Mrs Sharp, head of sixth form, for her ongoing support and encouragement.

Will Banks said:

It’s been rewarding to watch the students develop their debating skills over the last few months and perfect their style of delivery. It was an added bonus to be placed in this prestigious competition.”

Aria plans to study medicine and Josh wants to study English at university before becoming a teacher. The experience has proved both challenging and enjoyable for both students who are keen to continue debating in their enrichment lessons, which are part of the sixth form PSHE programme.

Tracey Peters, headteacher of John Willmott School, said:

Everybody at John Willmottl is extremely proud of both our students who represented their school so well. They spent many hours preparing and engaged the audience with their knowledge, delivery and humour. Congratulations too to Arthur Terry School and to all those who took part – we are looking forward to next year’s competition.”