On Wednesday 13 February MidKent College students tested their skills in the Kent ‘Debating Matters’ competition. This launched in 2003 to offer students the opportunity take part in topical and engaging debates.

This year’s competition was the first time that our students had entered, and although we might have had home advantage by hosting the event at our Medway Campus, we welcomed seven schools from across Kent with a long tradition of debating.

With the topics set in advance, students from a range of subject areas including Animal Management, Sport, Health and Social Care and Construction had time to research and prepare for the debate before delivering opening statements. They were then questioned by a judging panel, their opposing team and the audience to defend their position.

Competing in pairs, all three of our teams received positive comments from the judges along with areas that they could improve. Having worked together to prepare, the whole team were delighted when judges announced Sydney Williams and Billy Tutt had won their debate on the safety of autonomous vehicles, and that Abby Merry and Sydney Williams received honourable mentions from the judges for their contributions during the day.

Abby, following her debate regarding construction on greenbelt land said: “This event allowed me to grow and improve my confidence. It was not easy, but I managed to do it and I’ll now be able to speak front of others. It was a phenomenal experience”

Emma Petts, who debated the responsibility of social media companies to filter fake news, said: “Today I went on to a stage and debated a matter in front of an audience and that is something I thought I’d never have the strength to do. Wow.”

Tony Gilland, a College Curriculum Leader who supported the team, added: “We’re incredibly proud of all of our students who worked hard to prepare and handled the pressures of the day extremely well. In our society very few issues are clear-cut. The ability to construct an argument and engage in discussion with people who hold an alternative view is an important life skill, and is one of the ways we help to prepare our students for their future, and for work.”