Adjudicator Graham Turvey impressed by pupils' efforts at Upper Hunter school debate

PUBLIC speaking is one of life’s most crucial skills, from making a presentation to undertaking a job interview, it’s pivotal to be as confident and well-spoken as possible.

And, students from schools all across the Upper Hunter got the chance to fine tune their abilities at a debate competition at Muswellbrook South Public School last Thursday.

In what was just the second installation of the event, it was the newcomers, St James’ Primary, who reigned supreme after getting both their teams into the final.

Throughout the day the contestants had taken on topics ranging from “Should there be age restrictions on playing video games online?” to “Should current affairs be taught instead of history?”

The eventual winners were Lila Davies, Claire Leadley, Gabrielle Fuller and Daniel King, who sat in the negative camp in the final on the argument “Should we ban sales of bottled water?”

Teachers and coordinators Jennifer Smith and Sarah Stafford said they identified public speaking as an area that could be improved upon for their students, and decided to create an event that promoted and developed that skill.

“We just found that our pupils needed some more experience and it was a great opportunity to see other schools participate and learn from each other,” Ms Smith said.

It seems to be paying dividends with both teachers admitting they were impressed by the overall quality of the tournament.

“You really notice the difference running it from last year to this year, especially for those Year 6 students who participated in Year 5 in 2017 – and how much more confident they are just within 12 months,” Ms Stafford said.

Adjudicator Graham Turvey was also impressed with the standards on Thursday, and said many of the pupils’ maturity was far beyond their years.

“The students have been very analytical and very thorough in their preparation,” he explained.

“They’ve obviously been very good teams and have discussed the topics very thoroughly and deeply and come up with good arguments to support their side of the debate.”

The competition is sure to grow as more schools discover its benefits, and we’re also sure to see some future leaders coming out of St James’ Primary if their performance at the competition was anything to go by.