STUDENTS from Wath Comprehensive School showed they have the gift of the gab after winning first place at a regional debating competition.
The four pupils, Luke Rowley, Katherine Bostock, John D’Silva, and Cameron Price, triumphed at the Central Regional Final of the Institute of Ideas Debating Matters Competition at Leicester University.
And it was a double celebration for 18-year-old Cameron whose public speaking skills were marked out for special praise.
He took home the prize for ‘Best Individual speaker’, and was told that he embodied the ‘spirit of this competition’ by a panel of four judges.
He said: “We are forced to defend our ideas, even if it leads to uncomfortable territory.
“There was a great crossover of ideas from the judges, audience and all of us.”
The team had already proved themselves to be impressive speakers, having won their local qualifying round in the autumn against three other schools.
They battled their way through three debates at the regional final to emerge as the winners.
The four teens had to think on their feet by answering tough questions from a panel of three expert judges.
They had to come up with quick responses to topic titles that included “There should be no legal curbs on ‘offensive’ language” and “The UK should have a referendum on Membership of the European Union.”
In the final debate, which asked if performance enhancing drugs and steroids undermine the spirit of sports, the teams appeared to be neck and neck.
The judges underlined how impressed they were with the strength of arguments, presented by Wath and the other finalists.
But they chose the four Dearne youngsters as the winners, describing them as an “outstanding team.”
Panel judge Rebecca Walton, Director of Partnerships and Business Development, said of the Wath students: “The winners of the competition were an outstanding team.
“They not only demonstrated a real depth of knowledge in their subject, but also had a real passion for the subject.”
Speaking about the teams’ performance, Julie Shaw, Head of Sixth Form and the team’s coach, said: “The team handled the inquisition from the judges extremely well, I am very proud of them.
“They were up against stiff competition but managed to show what they are really made of.”
The students will now compete at the three day Debating Matters Competition National Final in London in July against pupils from Leicester Grammar School.
Students also won subscriptions to Encyclopaedia Britannica, six ‘Very Short Introductions’ each, and £500 worth of books for their school.