The London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham Debating Competition June 2004


On Tuesday June 22nd 2oo4 three students from Henry Compton took part in the inaugural Borough Debating competition. Hanzel Guelas, Eric Wong and Lukas Kulaitis (all year 8) had got through to the semi-finals at the expense of the London Oratory and Phoenix schools. The topic for their semi-final debate was "This house believes that disruptive pupils should be permanently excluded from mainstream schools", with Henry Compton proposing the motion and Lady Margaret opposing. Hanzel Guelas spoke first with a powerful argument outlining the need for pupils to take responsibility for their own actions. Eric Wong was the second speaker who argued that exclusion can be a 'positive' experience if appropriate help can be provided. The summary speaker was Lukas, who gave a typically passionate speech delivering the Compton motto 'teachers teach and pupils learn' as the 'killer' line.

Lukas Kulaitis and Eric Wong

At the end of the debate the judges, Sandy Adamson, Director of Education, Jan Goulstone, Adviser for PSHE and Citizenship and Ethel Tungohan from the English Speaking Union gave victory to Henry Compton by 57 marks to 52.

The second semi-final between Hurlingham and Chelsea and Sacred Heart ("This House believes that single-sex schools are better than mixed-sex schools)was another close fought affair, with Sacred Heart coming out victorious. This meant that the final motion "This House would let women fight in the front line" would be between the year 8 debaters from Henry Compton facing the year 10 debaters from Sacred Heart.

Hanzel Guelas

Both teams were only given half an hour to prepare their speeches and the pressure was really on. Henry Compton were again proposing the motion and kept the same formation as the semi-final. Hanzel led with a strong argument based on the key principle of equality. What was striking about this first performance was the quality of rebuttal, under a barrage of 'points of information'. Eric's speech was focused on the changes in technology that has reduced the need for physical strength to be the main determining factor for frontline combat. However, one of the turning points of the debate was the role of Lukas with a number of very important point scoring interventions. His impassioned arguments won the audience over and made a big impression on the judging panel. Unfortunately this was not quite enough and after a lengthy deliberation the judges decided that Sacred Heart had just pipped Henry Compton to the title by 84 points to 77. Although We may have lost the competition, it would not be unfair to say that we won the popular vote. Watch out Sacred Heart, we shall be back again next year!


Dan Lyndon