Worthing students lead lively debates for Rotary Youth Speaks

The power of protest and the colonisation of Mars were among topics chosen for debate by students at this year’s Rotary Youth Speaks competition in Worthing.

Five teams took part, from the Sir Robert Woodard Academy in Lancing, Chatsmore Catholic High School in Goring and Our Lady of Sion School in Worthing.

Worthing mayor Hazel Thorpe with the young debaters, judges Bob Smytherman and Toby Wilson, and Rotarian Kim Woodley

Worthing mayor Hazel Thorpe with the young debaters, judges Bob Smytherman and Toby Wilson, and Rotarian Kim Woodley

Worthing mayor Hazel Thorpe took the role of questioner, while Worthing Toastmaster Bob Smytherman and Toby Wilson from Worthing Speakers Club acted as independent judges.

Gerald Illsley, secretary of Highdown Rotary Club, said: “The five teams effectively and impressively presented to an audience of family and friends on a variety of topics, including whether homework should be banned, the colonisation of Mars and whether private schools should be banned.”

The competition heat was jointly organised by Highdown and Worthing Rotary clubs and held at Sion School, with Kim Woodley from Worthing Rotary Club as master of ceremonies.

Mr Smytherman said it was a close-run contest.

Sion won the intermediate section and Sir Robert Woodard won the senior section. Both teams will go on to the next round of the four-stage competition.

Helen Holloway, head of English at Sion, said: “It was a fantastic evening with some lively debate. All the speakers presented their arguments with thought and clarity and we are particularly proud of our Intermediate team, who will progress through to the regional stages.”

Mrs Thorpe presented the cups, along with personal awards and certificates for all contestants.

Mr Illsley said: “The competition is to support and encourage the development of speaking skills. This development slots well with the schools, with the aim to enable every student to develop their potential and a love for learning.”