Berkhamsted Group | 31.08.2017

Update:Tara’s team reach Debating World Championship final

Update:Tara’s team reach Debating World Championship final


Update: August 2017: England at the World Schools Debating Championship

Tara has returned from the World Schools Debating Championship with a silver medal.  50 nations took part in the competition held in Bali.

Tara said “I had a fantastic time at the championship in Bali and I felt very lucky to have the chance to visit such a beautiful country. The competition was tough because all the teams are of such a high standard so we were very pleased to make it to the final.

“I’m so glad I applied to be on the team because, not only has it given me the chance to learn about all kinds of different topics, but I’ve also met so many new people from all over the world. The whole process of being on Team England and practicing for the championship was a pleasure to be a part of and has definitely been one of the most memorable aspects of my Sixth Form”.

Tara is bound for Corpus Christi College Oxford to read History after achieving A*s in Math, Chemistry and History, and an A in Politics.

Original Story: November 2016

The prospect of public speaking and presenting an informed argument is something that is often feared even amongst top business executives with years of experience.

However, 17 year old Tara Sallis burst onto the Berkhamsted debating scene after her talents were first recognised by Politics teacher Mr Anker.  Almost exactly a year later, the Year 13 student has learned she has been selected to represent England at the World Schools Debating Championship 2017 in Bali.

Tara joined Berkhamsted Sixth in September 2015 having never previously debated.  The magnificence of her progress is undebatable. Within a matter of months Tara was teaming up with her fellow students to face some of the most respected debating teams in the country.

A major breakthrough for Tara came at the Oxford Schools Competition, the largest debating competition in the UK with over 350 schools involved.  Tara, together with her teammate Sam, defied the odds to triumph in the regional round while defeating teams with vastly superior experience.
With only the experience of four debating competitions behind her, Tara would not even dream of travelling to Indonesia to take on the best debaters worldwide at this point. On realising she was one of only five debaters selected by the English Speaking Union for the World Championships, Tara said “When I found out I was selected, I was of course very excited, but at the same time it was very unexpected.

“The whole competition process will be an exceptional experience, the coaching I have already benefited from has improved my debating immeasurably, and I look forward to putting everything I’ve developed into practice.“

The competition style is known as World Schools format and teams have just an hour to prepare their arguments. Tara recognises the skills that debating has helped her develop. She said “In debating you have such a short time to prepare for the motion, so you have to be able to think on your feet to develop your argument whilst responding to the debate going on at the same time. Competition days are a lot of fun, but the number of debates that you do over a day means you have to be prepared to respond to feedback and to keep trying to improve your performance. Overall debating has made me more confident and adaptable.”

“Debating has given me and my fellow teammates at Berkhamsted School the opportunity to challenge things intellectually in a unique way that you just don’t get to in any other sphere of education. It’s been a joy to debate my favourite topics such as culture, the arts, and politics.”

 Jane Simons, English teacher and Head of Debating Society at Berkhamsted School said “Tara’s progress has been both outstanding and a joy to behold. She is an intelligent, passionate girl with a real interest in the wider world. Debating allows students to make the most of their intellectual capacity whilst enjoying a competitive environment that enhances skills, such as team work.’Anna England-Kerr, Team England Manager said “This is the most prestigious debating competition in the world featuring some of the most skilled orators and thinkers of their generation.

“The selectors were very impressed by Tara’s ability to produce sophisticated and nuanced arguments and present them in a compelling way. We have high expectations of Team England and we believe that Tara will play a key role in a team continuing England’s proud history of success at the competition.

“The fact that a pupil of Berkhamsted School is on Team England is a testimony of the outstanding educational environment your school creates.”

The World Schools Debating Championship will take place in August 2017.

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