Attending Debate Club at Bridlington School has encouraged students to develop their self-esteem, self-confidence and independent thinking skills through exploring a range of current and often controversial topics every week. They have researched and debated motions of relevance not only to them in their school life, but in their life in Bridlington, their country and the world as they grow up. They have learnt through constructive debate and an emphasis on the Fundamental British Values of democracy, rule of law, individual liberty and mutual respect and tolerance, that although they may not agree with others’ views or even the laws in their country, they must be respected, appreciated and obeyed.
By following a formal debating format, students have sometimes been forced to argue for and explore views they do not necessarily agree with and as a consequence, have developed an understanding of alternative opinions, expressing them in a fair and objective way.
DEBATE: ‘Events in Paris have no relevance to Bridlington’
After the extremist bombings in Paris in November 2015, students debated the motion ‘Events in Paris have no relevance to Bridlington’ By researching extremism and its effects, they developed their understanding of a subject that had seemed remote to them and understood better the consequences of sweeping assumptions about religion and other cultures. This linked to a different kind of prejudice experienced first-hand by the students when they debated ‘Bridlington-chav capital of the North’! Some believed this was an accurate portrayal whereas others blamed stereotyping by the media for this title, but all presented their arguments in a reasoned and logical manner.
DEBATE: ‘Women should have the right to choose abortion’
One of the most passionately but sensitively debated motions was ‘Women should have the right to choose abortion’ when students’ tolerance and ability to respect others’ views was tested. Despite some disagreeing with the law regarding abortion, the fact that this law had to be observed was recognised and although students did not change their individual opinions about abortion, they listened with respect to opposing views. It was incredible that students were able to form such mature and compassionate opinions through both their study in Philosophy and Ethics and their knowledge of the experiences of family members.
Other motions for debate have included:
‘Immigrants should be forced to learn English as a condition of citizenship’
‘Performing Arts is of no value to the Curriculum’
‘It is unfair the government impose a tax on tampons not Jaffa Cakes’
‘Permissive parenting is to blame for the poor behaviour and attitude of some students at Bridlington School’
‘University should be free for all.’