Newham’s children made their voices heard loud and clear this month, with teams from two of the borough’s schools crowned the nation’s best in the prestigious Debate Mate Cup.
The competition, hosted at Oxford University’s historic Christ Church College, saw the country’s eight top squads gather for a battle of oracy and eloquence.
And in the hallowed halls once called home by wordsmiths such as C. S. Lewis and Lewis Carroll, it was Elmhurst Primary and Godwin Junior School who rose above the rest.
Having qualified for the day as the winner and runner-up of the Debate Mate London Cup respectively, both teams, made up of year five and six children, put on formidable performances to fly to even greater heights.
Elmhurst was named the ultimate winner of the cup and therefore national champions, while Godwin came in a close second after a hard-fought and exciting finale.
Their joint success is even more impressive given the quality of the other six teams, all of who either won or came second in their regional cups.
Godwin and Elmhurst claimed victory in both their first debates, delivering arguments initially around whether school canteens should only serve meat free meals and then on the topic of children being able to skip ahead years due to academic achievement.
Following these two bouts, Elmhurst was placed first out of the eight competitors with an impressive 142 points out of a total 200 and Godwin was just behind in second with 135. This meant they qualified for the grand final, which was delivered in front of an audience of more than 50 other children and adults.
This clash was on the topic of whether children should be obligated to look after their parents in their old age. Godwin was given the role of arguing for the motion and Elmhurst charged with arguing against.
The teams put on an incredible show, with the judges praising the style and confidence of both schools. In the end, the judges opted for Elmhurst to be the overall champions but admitted that it was a tight decision.
More than just a day of debating, the children were given a tour of Oxford University and a talk by one of Christ Church’s outreach team in order to open their eyes to the possibility of attending such an impressive institution.
It also carries on a proud tradition of debating in Newham. The borough already hosts Debate Mate’s East London League, run jointly by the charity and the Elmhurst Teaching School Alliance. Elmhurst is the current holder of Debate Mate’s East London Cup and was placed second in this year’s national league.