Harpenden school takes home the prize at Westminster debate

The Hitchin and Harpenden schools' debating competition.

The Hitchin and Harpenden schools' debating competition. - Credit: Archant

A Harpenden school came top in a debate in Westminster arguing against making voting compulsory.

Sofie Kwiatkowski and Jean-Emmanuel Pesez, Year 10 pupils from St George’s, won the overall prize in the junior category at the Hitchin and Harpenden schools’ debating competiton, which was held in the Palace of Westminster on Thursday, March 16.

There were two categories, Years 10 to 11 and Years 12 to 13, with six teams taking part in each category. The teams contested three motions and were judged by a politically-balanced panel.

The judges awarded prizes to the teams they considered to have won each debate, as well as a prize for the overall winners in each age group.

St George’s won in the junior category against The Priory, with Hitchin Boys winning in the senior category against Roundwood Park by arguing for withdrawing the invitation to invite Donald Trump to Westminster.

The members of each winning debate team were given a copy of Robert Tombs’s book ‘The English and their History’, and the overall winners from both age categories were each given a small shield to keep. The junior winners from St George’s were also given a trophy to take back to their school, while the senior winners were given a shield.

Harpenden MP Peter Lilley, who attended the debates and gave the pupils a tour of the House of Commons chamber, thanked the teachers and judges.

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He said: “Once again the standard was outstanding and the judges had an almost impossible task picking winners.”

Addressing the pupils at the debate, Mr Lilley said: “I want to thank all of you for coming down to Westminster to take part in the debating competition. I hope that all of you will go out and get involved in politics locally.”