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Home > News and views > Debate Academy 2022 – ‘I didn’t want to leave’

Debate Academy 2022 – ‘I didn’t want to leave’

groups of students and mentors outside school

Whether you’re an experienced debater or an absolute beginner, there’s something for all abilities at the ESU’s debating summer school, as this report on Debate Academy 2022 illustrates 

From practice debates to spoken-word poetry, find out what went on at Debate Academy 2022  

The ESU’s Debate Academy returned with great success earlier this month after a two-year hiatus, and we were delighted to welcome 66 enthusiastic young speakers to Stamford School in Lincolnshire for a week of top-quality debate coaching and enrichment.  

Throughout the week, students received expert debate tuition from some of the best debaters and debate coaches in the country, as well as the chance to discuss world issues, sharpen their analytical, reasoning and public speaking skills, and spar with other students from all over the world in competitive debates.

Students of all levels of debating experience demonstrated immense enthusiasm and talent, throwing themselves wholeheartedly into the week’s activities. With daily teaching consisting of practice debates, skills-orientated exercises, and topic-based seminars, our young debaters took on the challenge of improving their debating skills with impressive commitment, and it was amazing to see how their skills developed in such a short period of time. An overwhelming majority of students reported that the week not only helped them improve upon their debating, but also increased their confidence, helping them to express themselves better, and giving them new opportunities.  

‘Coming here has been so valuable for both my debating and general critical thinking skills,’ said Year 10 student Holly. ‘Everyone was so lovely, I learned so much – I couldn’t recommend enough!’ 

Outside the classroom, ESU oracy coaches did a fantastic job providing students with a range of exciting elective lessons and socials. From lectures on the modern Middle East, to introductions to spoken word poetry and seminars on life after school, students had a great time exploring new topics and pursuing interests outside of the mainstream curriculum.  

Socials included a sports night, a high-spirited scavenger hunt across the Stamford campus, scenic walks around the local town, and much more. Perhaps unsurprisingly amid a group of keen young debaters, students opted to watch the Conservative leadership debate over anything else at film night – generating much entertainment and plenty of constructive feedback for the leadership candidates!  

As ever, it was wonderful to feel a genuine sense of community and friendship among the students at Debate Academy. And for this group of young people whose lives have been disrupted by lockdowns, the chance to meet like-minded friends from across the globe was joyfully embraced. So many students showed great appreciation for the friendships they made at Debate Academy, with a fair few having even made plans to return for next year’s summer school before this year’s had finished! As Year 11 student Natalie put it ‘Loved it. Life-changing. I didn’t want to leave.’ 

We look forward to seeing many of our students again, be that at next year’s Debate Academy, or at one of our ESU competitions.  

Would you, or someone you know, be interested in learning how to debate? Expressions of interest for Debate Academy 2023 are now open here. Find out more about Debate Academy, or get in touch with us on Twitter @theESU. 

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