This year’s Community Engagement placements included sessions on the Art of Debating with students from Cox Green School in Maidenhead. Since 3 October 2022, every Monday afternoon, five Etonians and nine Cox Green School pupils met, along with staff, on Microsoft Teams to learn debating techniques. They also ran practice debates, which involved learning how to prepare for debates. Over the course of the half (term), both sets of students learned about British parliamentary format, argument construction, rebuttal, and prep-time strategy. This culminated in a final debate in person at Eton College last week.

On Monday 5 December, these Cox Green School and Eton pupils finally got to meet in person. The pupils and staff enjoyed lunch together in College Hall, and afterwards were treated to a tour of Eton’s historic buildings. The day finished with two rousing debates in the Jafar Hall. A three-versus-three debate argued the motion that ‘Football clubs should be legally responsible for the actions of their fans’ whilst the four teams of two argued the motion ‘First Ladies should have political power in countries where there are fewer female politicians’.

No winners were declared, as the aim for the day was to learn, rather than to be competitive – especially when tasked with arguing the side of the motion a debating pupils disagrees with! Regardless, the pupils all had a wonderful time visiting Eton College and the Etonians enjoyed hosting them and showing them around the School. The sessions are due to continue online next Half (term), with the final in-person debate taking place at Cox Green School.

Rajas N, one of the participating boys from Eton College, said, “I felt that the program was a great success, and that the students of both schools thoroughly enjoyed it… it seemed as if they were truly putting a lot of time and effort into creating their speeches. This was especially noticeable in the wonderful finale, a day filled with many nerve-wracking and exciting moments.”