Dorset sixth-form students recently headed up to London to take part in a debate in the House of Lords.

Eight students from Gillingham School who are part of the public speaking team were invited to the Houses of Parliament to take part in a debate hosted by the charity Debating Matters. 

Schools were picked from across the country and Gillingham School was one of only four schools taking part.

The debates were on current and contentious issues and included ‘Does ‘cancel culture’ threaten freedom of speech?’ ‘Do billionaires’ ownership of media organisations pose a threat to democracy?’ ‘Should museums repatriate cultural artefacts?’

The speakers from Gillingham, Elijah Wood and Daniel Matterface, made a brave argument in the semi-final on cancel culture and were praised for their quick thinking, bold lines of argument and nuanced answers to the judges’ questions, however they didn’t proceed to the next round.

Elijah said: “The method of debate felt civil, and information driven, like a disagreement being resolved.”

One member of the team explained how they enjoyed the ‘emphasis on interrogation by the judges and the interesting topics.’

Lucy Wrench was singled out as worthy of an Honourable Mention, as the judges enjoyed her contributions and questions.

Lucy described the day as ‘interesting, engaging, informative and inspiring.’