At the end of the June 2017, the Stroud High debate team competed at the national finals of European Youth Parliament debating. It was an amazing experience for the whole team, especially Issy Chappell (our Head Girl) and Megan Holtmeyer-Cole who were both individually selected to compete in the international competition later on this year!
The competition, which was based at Liverpool Hope University, lasted 4 days and comprised of team building in committees with students from other delegations, drawing up resolution documents and then debating and defending those documents with the other delegates. All of the students were in committees debating relevant and important issues such as reproductive rights, discrimination and ethnic profiling in travel, and the use of media in referendums - these intense topics required a large amount of research and the team did a lot of research into legislation in particular to try and work out a solution for their committee's issue that was up for debate. This was a complex task but everybody tackled their issues with sensitivity and maturity which was commented on by the President of the session as it had impressed her.
The first day consisted of team-building with the committees, which were comprised of 1 member from each delegation and had students from all across the UK and types of schools, as well as having a few students from EU and international schools. While doing traditional getting-to-know-you games, these sessions also started tackling the individual issues for each commission by presenting moral problems and case studies which were related to the committee's topic and really made the delegates think in-depth about their topic. To round off the day, each delegation had to bring food from a pre-assigned country and we had a feast of international food, from Portugal (the SHS contribution) to Poland to the Netherlands, where the delegation from the Netherlands had brought their favourite traditional home-made dishes!
The second day was also in committees but was much more topic-focused and we had to draw up policy documents, much similar to the ones produced by the real European Parliament! We had to outline problems that faced the effected peoples and then suggest policies that could be implemented to solve or ease the problems for the people. A large part of this process was anticipating what the opposing arguments would be and improving the policies then as much as we could to give the opposition as little room to fault them as we could. At the end of the day all the committees participated in a pub quiz, on everything from flags to guessing hummed theme tunes, which yielded some interesting results!
The third and fourth days consisted solely of debating. Over the course of the two days all 9 committees resolution documents were debated and this gave everybody a chance to show off not only their fantastic public speaking and debate skills, but also their research, quick thinking ability and teamwork. All motions were debated intensely but also with the sensitivity required on delicate topics such as abortion or racial profiling. Everybody pulled off the debate with a maturity and delicacy that was commented on by the President and Vice-Presidents as an impressive feat. Voting on the issues showed a wide range of opinions and the majority of the motions were passed - surprisingly the motion that passed with the highest majority was the controversial motion by the Committee for Environment, Public Health and Food Safety on reproductive rights across the EU. On the third and final night all of the amazing delegates got to show off their amazing talents, including a range of singers and our own great delegates, Eleanor who played the piano while Megan showed off her skills with LED Poi which wowed everybody!
At last it was time to go. We all parted ways with the other delegates but not after leaving each other notes and making sure we'd all stay in contact. Unfortunately as a team we didn't win however Issy and Megan both got individually selected to go forward to internationals and we wish them great luck for the internationals later on this year!