No debating it - Bangalow is best

From the country to the city, student debaters have adapted to online competition and mounted their cases, writes Glenn Cullen.

Image: The Bangalow Public School team celebrates its win in the Premier's Debating Challenge Year 5 and 6 Division.

Bangalow may be a smallish town in the Byron Shire, but its public school students sure know how to mount a big argument.

So much so, the Year 5 and 6 debating team topped all others in the state to take out the Premier’s Debating Challenge in that age category.

The last of 938 teams standing following 1300 debates, Bangalow Public School argued its way through the finals series online.

Bangalow won seven debates in a row to become the state champions, edging out 2020 finalists Terrigal Public School.

The team would have likely had the overwhelming majority of support from fellow public school students when they mounted a case for the negative against the statement: ‘That primary school students should have to complete at least five hours of homework each week over the holidays.’

But the Bangalow team still had to present a compelling case against Terrigal who mounted a strong argument based around collaborative learning and fun activities.

“I’m so proud of them. It was a massive feat,” Bangalow Public School principal Caroline Antoun told local media.

Debating coach Melanie Hughes said the team had put in a supreme effort.

“They come train with me at a lunch or a recess every week. It’s been pretty intense and it was a lot more intense over the past couple of weeks,” she said.

Year 5 and 6 was one of only two divisions of the Premier’s Debating Challenge that was run in full due to COVID; Smiths Hill High School (Wollongong) took out the Year 11 and 12 competition earlier in the year.

Other years took part in an entirely on-line competition called the ‘World’s Biggest Debate (WBD)’.

Smiths Hill again featured prominently, going down to Sydney Boys High School in the Year 9 and 10 division, and also finishing runner-up to Rose Bay Secondary College in the Year 7 and 8 division.

Randwick Public School edged out Alexandria Park Community School in the Year 5 and 6 division of the WBD.

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