International final beckons for Bishop's Stortford High School debating stars
Four student debaters are the talk of The Bishop's Stortford High School (TBSHS).
Year 12 pair Elliot Wood and William Worthy were selected for the first day of trials for the team to represent England at the World Schools Debating Championships in the summer.
Unfortunately, Will had to drop out because of a prior commitment, but Elliot came through a gruelling day, involving a general knowledge quiz and four debates, to qualify for the second stage along with 22 other speakers.
That was the end of his journey, but Will and Elliot joined forces to represent TBSHS at the regional round of the Cambridge Union Schools' Competition, held online.
They were joined by the promising 'novice' team of fellow Year 12s Leyla Bubb and Max O'Reilly, both taking part in their first inter-school competition.
There were 28 teams from the East of England, including representatives of Oundle, The Perse and Norwich schools, who battled through four fierce rounds for the prize of one of three spots in the international final.
Elliot and Will qualified after finishing a very close second overall while Max and Leyla were eighth. Further good news came with the individual speaker ratings for the day: Elliot and Will were joint third, Max fifth and Leyla, who started debating only in September, equal 12th.
Debating team coach and retired teacher Tony Fraser said: "It's very gratifying to have two students in the 60 selected for England trials, and the quality of TBSHS debating was reflected in the recent competition. With both teams in the top third and all our speakers in the top quarter of the individual rankings, this was an excellent day's work."
Head of sixth form Rob Stark added: "As a school sixth form we pride ourselves on our extra-curricular provision. In what has been a very challenging time, I am immensely proud of all the debaters for giving up so much of their time and I want to congratulate them for their efforts and achievements.
"During lockdown, the school has worked tremendously hard to maintain our sense of community and the continuation of whatever co-curricular activities we can provide plays a crucial part in that.
"The staff involved in school debating deserve a great deal of credit too. Therefore, I want to pay tribute to Mr Fraser for all his hard work, generosity and guidance to TBSHS debating."