Taunton School Main Building at Dusk

Taunton School Students Participate in International Debating Contest in South Africa

Posted: 5th May 2023

Sixth-formers Beth and Lizzie travelled to Durban for the World Individual Debating and Public Speaking Championships – an annual event with 120 students from 35 different countries.

Both students took part in a wide range of challenges, including public speaking rounds which required them to deliver without notes both thirteen-minute prepared speeches and five-minute unprepared speeches having been given one word for inspiration and just two minutes to think.

“It was amazing to be part of this event,” said art scholar Beth who is in Year 12 and made it to the final 16 of the Impromptu Speaking competition. “This was my first time travelling outside Europe and I was blown away by how beautiful South Africa was. I feel so lucky to have had the opportunity to go.”

Lizzie, who is in Year 13 and Head of Debating at Taunton School, said the trip was “an unforgettable experience that really opened my eyes to another part of the world.” An academic scholar, Lizzie hopes to read English at Durham University this autumn and join the university Debating Society.

Taunton is one of the four schools which founded the WIDPSC in 1988. Students from around the globe take part in the five-day event which is fiercely competitive. Lizzie and Beth were able to visit some of Durban’s leading tourist attractions including the Nelson Mandela Museum and local safari parks.

“We felt very lucky to be part of this incredible event,” said Classics and English Teacher Susannah Commings, who accompanied the two students. “It was an invaluable lesson in remembering how articulate and thoughtful young people can be, especially given the depths of the topics they were expected to speak on. I am very proud of both Lizzie and Beth.”

Next year’s competition is in Canberra, Australia. Beth, a lower sixth-former, is hoping to secure a place.

Categories: News Senior Sixth Form