Students have gift of the gab

Year 12 students have reached the UK national final of the European Youth Parliament debating competition-(left to right) April Covington, Bryony Clear Hill,  Harleen Randeeva, Beth Forsyth, Ben Stephens, Chris Dodds,  Jonathan Lakey and Laura Jackson.
Year 12 students have reached the UK national final of the European Youth Parliament debating competition-(left to right) April Covington, Bryony Clear Hill, Harleen Randeeva, Beth Forsyth, Ben Stephens, Chris Dodds, Jonathan Lakey and Laura Jackson.
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PONTELAND High School students have once again proved that they have the gift of the gab when it comes to debating.

Its team of post-16 debaters will take on other schools from across the country in a European Youth Parliament (EYP) competition later this month after winning the regional heat.

This is the seventh year in a row that the school has taken part in the contest and this latest success means that students will be participating in its national session for the fifth time – the best record of any English state school.

Such is Ponteland’s reputation that former students Harriet Jackson and twins Dan and Ben Brown have been involved in organising the regional and national competitions and Head of Year 12 David Hicklenton was asked last year to join the National Organising Committee as the teacher with the most experience of national sessions.

This year’s victorious students at the regional event in Durham were Bryony Clear Hill, Harleen Randeva, Chris Dodds, April Covington, Ben Stephens, Laura Jackson, Jonathan Lakey and Beth Forsyth.

Even though other squad members did not take part in the Durham session, they played an important role in helping their team-mates prepare for the event and will make up the team of ten needed for the national session at Liverpool Hope University.

Ponteland High Associate Headteacher Anita Brown said: “Our students have a excellent record in this prestigious international event and both they and the teachers involved in helping them to prepare for the tough debates it involves deserve the highest praise.”

The UK has 14 EYP debating competition regional sessions each year and those successful at the national session will go on to international sessions, which a number of Ponteland students have done in the past.

The focus of the contest is on teamwork and research alongside the cut and thrust of political debate.

Mr Hicklenton said: “As well as offering an insight into the workings of international politics, the EYP competition is an amazing opportunity for students to network, meet high-flyers from other state and private schools and face challenges well outside their comfort zone.”