By 6.30am on Monday 6 February, the team of seven Year 12s had boarded the school minibus and we were on our way for Exeter to debate in the EYPUK South West session. The day involved different teams from across the South West being responsible for a committee, and topical issues were critically analysed, mirroring the work of MEPs on committees in the European Parliament. Stroud High’s team, assigned Committee on Foreign Affairs, kicked off the debate arguing our resolution for ‘what stance should the EU take on building relations with the Trump administration to ensure the EU’s priorities are achieved?’ The other committees represented were the committees on constitutional affairs, international trade, internal market and consumer protection, public health and food safety, and human rights. Everyone had contributed research and a depth of understanding to the varied and complex questions asked of us during the day. These ranged from ‘what steps should the EU take to ensure that it meets its ethical obligations when exporting arms?’, to ‘how can the EU protect its citizens from racially motivated crime whilst safeguarding its citizens’ right to expression?’, ‘how can the EU respect autonomist regional desires without putting its own unity into question?’ and ‘should the EU do more to reduce childhood obesity by controlling the markets of unhealthy food and sugars?’.
One of the outstanding features of the SHS team was that every member contributed questions and speeches in each of the six debates throughout the day. Team members showed strong cooperation and argued difficult and sensitive topics in a professional, articulate manner. An extensive amount of preparation was required in order to meet the demands of the debate, and our team dedicated hours of our own time to ensure we could all speak confidently on each of the topics. By the end of the day we were energised from hours of lively discussion, and had met many different students from schools in the region and encountered a variety of other opinionated and fiery students. The judges gave each of the teams excellent feedback, so we were delighted when it was announced that Stroud High and one other school’s team had been selected by the judges as the winning teams! Thanks to our hard work, we will now represent the region in the national round of EYPUK, working with other successful schools from across the UK in Liverpool. All of the participants agree that the research and time spent in preparation for the day certainly paid off, and we are thankful to Mr Prenter for organising this opportunity and supporting our research.