Cherwell democracy challenge

On Friday 6th November four of our Post-16 students took part in the annual Cherwell Democracy Challenge, hosted by our local MP Victoria Prentis. Here is a summary of the day:

"Usually, the day would run with the schools taking part coming to the Banbury Council offices and engaging in several debates culminating in a final which would be judged by 9 or so notable members of our constituency.

However, things ran slightly differently this year, with only 2 other schools taking part, and it happened over Zoom.

For preparation we had to plan two motions: ‘This House believes that every child has a right to a hot free school meal’, and ‘This House believes Parliament should be relocated from London to Oxford’. We did not know if we would be for or against the motion until 15 minutes before each debate, meaning we had to prepare both sides of the argument. We were also thrown another challenge when an unexpected third motion was given to us to prepare the day before the competition, which was ‘This House believes the voting age should be lowered to 16’. Luckily, we didn’t end up having to debate this motion.

We started off debating for the first motion against The Bicester School (TBS), which we won. Then, right afterwards, we debated against the second motion, against Bloxham Park, which we also won.

This meant we sat out while Bloxham and TBS debated the third motion, and ourselves and Bloxham ended up competing against each other in the finals. We got the motion we would debate for the finals 15 minutes beforehand, and the motion was ‘This House believes that Covid-19 restrictions unreasonably infringe individual civil liberties’, which we unfortunately had to argue for. This was a real challenge, as it gave the opposition an obvious advantage, and all of us disagreed with what we had to debate for, and it was tricky to find sufficient statistics and points in the 15 minutes in which we had to prepare the argument.

Because of these unfortunate circumstances, we came second to Bloxham, as they won the finals, yet we were told by Victoria Prentis that we performed best overall during the day. So despite winning 2 out of 3 debates, because we didn’t win the finals, we didn’t win overall, which is a shame, but at least we know we performed well, and we will try for a win again next year! (We won last year’s).

Because we won last year, we were meant to get a tour of the Houses of Parliament with Victoria Prentis, however because of elections and the pandemic, this was not possible, so as soon as Westminster opens up to the public, we shall get our long-awaited tour! We also got some paper from the House of Commons, which was nice.

So overall, it was a long and challenging day, but ultimately rewarding and good fun!"