Coen Armstrong KS & Gustav Conradie KS have won this year’s Oxford Union Schools Debating Competition, while Greg Weaving KS was ranked top individual speaker. Oxford Schools is the largest secondary-level debate event in the country, starting with over 800 teams competing in regional rounds from as far afield as Canada and Singapore, with 108 teams progressing to the finals day held on Saturday the 10th of March.

The main part of the competition consisted of four rounds, at the end of which the top eight teams went into the knock-out stages. Coen & Gustav emerged top of the team rankings while Trevor Chow KS & Luis Wahl OS (JCAJ) were eighth. Other teams in the top eight were from Burnaby Mountain School in Canada, Dulwich College, St Paul’s Girls’ School, Sevenoaks School, Whitgift School and Loreto College in Dublin. Both our pairs ended up in the same semi-final (‘This house would support community militias in countries with weak law enforcement systems’). Coen & Gustav then proceeded to the final, speaking as the second proposition team (‘This house would prefer all children to be raised by the state rather than their parents’) and were judged the winners, with the jury split three-two in their favour.

Eton speakers also had a strong showing in the individual speaker rankings, earning four of the top five positions (out of 216 speakers), and six of the top twelve. Greg Weaving KS ranked first overall, followed by Gustav in second, Arthur James KS in third, Coen in fifth, with Trevor and Luis tied for eleventh place. This is an improvement upon last year when Greg ranked second, and no other Eton speaker featured in the top ten. (This marks the fifth competition this year at which Eton debaters topped the speaker rankings. Coen previously placed first at SOAS and Cambridge, while Trevor ranked top at the Dulwich and King’s College London competitions.)

This is the second year in a row that Eton has won Oxford Schools. Greg and Coen won it last year, after a three year stretch of victories by the formidable Dulwich College. The strong performances from younger debaters – Gustav, Luis and Trevor are all in D block – gives reasons for optimism in the years to come.

Daniel Berman (Debating Coach)