Pupils from The Academy of St Francis of Assisi (ASFA) in Kensington are celebrating after reaching the finals of a national debate competition.
After being crowned regional Debate Mate champions and taking home the Urban Debate Mate Cup in March, the Academy’s debate team went onto compete in the national finals in Westminster.
Debate Mate is a national competition which encourages breaking down the stereotypes surrounding debate teams and promotes the life skills achieved through taking part in debates.
The 6 pupil strong team made up of Fiorella Gallardo, Christopher Sampson, Emily Hollinshead, Chianna Tasker, Natalie Nyamadzi and JC Somerset tackled challenging subject matters to place 8th out of the 250 schools taking part.
The team trained for 17 weeks as part of Debate Mate’s after school programme and faced numerous heats held in schools across the city before out-scoring the competition to be awarded the regional prize.
Although only signing up for the programme in November, the Academy faced steep competition at the national final from the UK’s top schools who had years of experience.
Judges at the event were overwhelmed by the quality of the speeches and the maturity with which the team tackled issues such as Brexit, voting age and the use of Photoshop in advertising.
ASFA is dedicated to providing it’s pupils with after school clubs that encourage important life-skills and being part of the debate team has allowed pupils to gain a broad knowledge of subjects across disciplines that may not be covered in the national curriculum.
Pupils involved in the programme have gained confidence and self-esteem as well as strengthening their skills in teamwork, critical thinking and public speaking.
Teacher Miss Hussain, says: “The ASFA team showed passion, dedication, determination and resilience throughout the competition and we couldn’t be prouder of them.
“To win the regional championships was incredible but to go on to be named 8th place overall nationally is an outstanding achievement. The standards have been set high for next year’s team but I’m sure that the regional champions will have lots of advice!”