6 in 6000: Cardinal Pole students win national debate competition

The Cardinal Pole Catholic School debate team have won the 2018 Debate Mate competition, edging out over 240 schools nationwide to the title.

Alec Lau, Taiwo Olaojo, Edward Ntalindwa Badege, Philip Webb, Katie Lowbridge, and Boran Sis competed with over 6,000 other students to be crowned this year’s winners.

On Monday 14th May the Cardinal Pole team travelled to the House of Lords for the Urban Debate League Grand Final. Beating strong competition from Sydenham School in Lewisham they clinched the national title. In a daze of euphoria, Katie remarked, ‘The experience has been truly phenomenal!’

The motion up for debate during the grand final was ‘this house would require elected politicians to have their immediate family use only the local education and NHS services’. Edward strongly believes that this topic is relevant as it ‘helps fight against economic and social imbalance by having progressive ideas of more inclusion. If that doesn’t involve bringing the masses up, it can involve bringing the select few down. That way we are all on the same level, and that’s when we can start to progress socially and financially’.

Anneka Hartley and Katie Hayward run the debate club at Cardinal Pole. Anneka explains ‘as a school, we know how talented and determined our students are, it is fantastic that now everyone else can see Hackney pupils as the best in the country!’

Debate Mate is a charity that endeavours to improve students’ critical and creative thinking, teamwork and leadership skills through teaching them the art of public speaking. The programme provides participating students with 17 weeks of extra-curricular training from trained university students who mentor teams through a series of fun and interactive exercises and games.

Cardinal Pole’s own mentor was ex-student Jesse Williams who said of the experience that ‘having been a Debate Mate student at Cardinal Pole from 2009-2011, I knew first-hand the positive affect that debating can have on students. I was extremely privileged to come back to Cardinal Pole’s debate club as a mentor, coaching the students over the course of the academic year. To see them win the Urban Debate League was amazing for me as a mentor because I was able to witness the incredible growth of the students over the course of the year, both in terms of debating skills and personal development.’

Philip emphasised the importance of the programme and thanked Jesse, saying ‘if you find the right mentor they give you this better feeling about yourself. They show you a skill you never knew you had, and help you advance your current skills.’