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The Beechwood Top Form Debating Team has been crowned National Champions at the Rotary Club of Great Britain and Ireland’s’ Youth Speaks Competition.

Youth Speaks: A Debate is organised and promoted by Rotary International in Great Britain and Ireland, and is a four stage competition designed to support and encourage the development of effective communication skills in children aged 11 to 17.
The competition aims to offer young people:
  •  – Experience in speaking on a public platform as a member of a team;
  • –  An incentive to formulate ideas on topical subjects and to put these forward while being in opposition to another speaker;
  • –  Discipline in dealing with a topic in a limited time;
  • –  The opportunity of learning and practising high standards of expression, presentation and appearance;
  • –  Impartial feedback and assessment of performance by experienced adjudicators.
Teams of three pupils prepare and deliver a short debate on a topic of their choice in front of an audience.
The Beechwood team, composed of Aidan Burger (12), Josh Davies (13) and Tommy Hubback (13), and guided by Beechwood English Teacher, Helen Beavis. had fought their way through local, district and regional qualifying rounds, before travelling to the Lawrence Sheriff School in Rugby to take part in the National Finals on Sunday 23 April.
In the final, the boys debated against teams from Rookwood School, Andover, Redmaids High School, Bristol, King Edward VI School Brimingham, Kyle Academy, Ayr and Ysgol Treffymon, Holywell, North Wales.  Debates centred around topics as varied as “Let’s Ban Fairy Tales” to “Should Schools Uniforms be Compulsory?” and “Private Schools Should Be Abolished” and ”Authentic Casting Is Necessary In The Acting Community”. The Beechwood Team’s topic centred around the Monarch and whether or not it should be abolished, a relevant topic as the country approaches the Coronation of King Charles III next month.
Confidently chaired by Aiden, Tommy and Joshua then eloquently and articulately argued for and against this motion, combining a confident delivery and well-reasoned arguments with touches of wit leaving, the audience both impressed and entertained.  Despite strong competition from the other schools,  the judges were unanimous in their decision that the Beechwood boys should lift the 2023 Intermediate Youth Speaks trophy.  Not only did the team win the overall competition, but Aiden was also named Best Chairperson, and Joshua Best Opposer.
This win goes one step further than the 2022 Beechwood Debating Team who won the Regional Final last year, in a year when no National Final was held.
Of the achievement, Beechwood’s Interim Head, Maureen Cussans, said:
“The whole school is incredibly proud of this phenomenal team performance by Aidan, Tommy and Josh. They have worked hard to get to this level, supported the whole time by the indefatigable Mrs Beavis as she has tirelessly coached and nurtured them to this outstanding success. Taking part in competitions such as Youth Speaks is just one of the many opportunities, both within school and beyond,  that our Beechwood Top Formers (Year 8 pupils) are able to engage in, and this year, the boys’ success will, I have no doubt, act as inspiration to many pupils lower down the School. As all three boys move on from Beechwood to take up 13+ academic scholarships at their chosen senior school in September, they go safe in the knowledge that they have more than left their mark on Beechwood with this resounding success”.
Thank you to everyone who has accompanied the team on their journey through the competition, especially Mrs Beavis, and a special mention too to the team of Rotarians from Harpenden who have supported the boys every step of the way and who provided vociferous support at the final on Sunday.