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Bishop’s Stortford High School students talk their way to the top

The Bishop’s Stortford High School’s debaters are the talk of the town after another term of success.

In the qualifying round of the International Competition for Young Debaters, the London Road secondary was the only school with four teams in the top 15 of the 36 competing from East Anglia and the East Midlands.

At the Cambridge University Union, Year 10 students Fin Macfie and Semir Emara won three of their four debates to become regional champions and reach April’s international finals day in Oxford. There, they will face teams from all over the UK, as well as qualifiers from nine overseas heats, including teams from Australia, Canada and Greece.

Semir Emara and Fin Macfie
Semir Emara and Fin Macfie

Sixth-formers Oliver Worthy and India Purton, the latter in her first year of inter-school debating, competed at international finals day of the Cambridge Schools event against teams from at least seven countries, as well as the likes of Eton, St Paul’s Girls and Winchester. Against very high-quality opponents, India and Oliver finished just outside the top 50.

Debating coach and retired teacher Tony Fraser said: “These very pleasing results, along with our 10th successive appearance in the regional final of the ESU Mace, emphasise our long-held position as one of the top debating schools in this part of the country.

“It is a measure of the school’s strength in depth that no fewer than 26 students have represented TBSHS in the past three months. They all deserve hearty congratulations for their hard work, quick wits and very positive attitudes.”

Oliver Worthy and India Purton
Oliver Worthy and India Purton

Head Dale Reeve added: “We put a lot of focus on developing students’ debating skills at TBSHS and, given that we’re often competing against some of the top independent schools in the country, it’s wonderful to see our students performing so well.

“For Fin and Semir to make it through to the international finals day in Oxford is a superb achievement and we look forward to seeing how they progress this year and beyond.

“We are very much indebted to Mr Fraser for the generous support and guidance he continues to give our students, on a completely voluntary basis. He retired from teaching 10 years ago, yet his unwavering commitment to the students and to debating is why it is such a strength at the high school.”

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