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Lords debateHouse of Lords debate

Public Speaking is an important skill and, at Gillingham School, we are very keen to give our students the skills and opportunity to speak their opinions and express their ideas. On Friday the 15th of March, eight sixth-form students, who make up some of our Public Speaking team, were invited to the House of Lords Debate, hosted by the charity Debating Matters (see photo above). Schools were picked from across the country and we were one of only four schools taking part.

The debates were on current and contentious issues: Does ‘cancel culture’ threaten freedom of speech? Do billionaires’ ownership of media organisations pose a threat to democracy? Should museums repatriate cultural artefacts? One member of the team reported that they enjoyed the “emphasis on interrogation by the judges and the interesting topics”.

The speakers from Gillingham – Elijah Wood and Daniel Matterface – made a brave argument in the semi-final on cancel culture and were praised for their quick thinking, bold lines of argument and nuanced answers to the judges’ questions, however they didn’t proceed to the next round. Elijah said that “the method of debate felt civil and information driven, like a disagreement being resolved.”

It was a wonderful experience for everyone to watch the teams debate and to get involved in the floor debates, asking questions to the teams. Lucy Wrench was singled out as worthy of an honourable mention, as the judges enjoyed her contributions and questions.

All in all, it was a wonderful day out. Students saw the sights, were given a fantastic tour of the Houses of Lords and got to take part in an amazing event in an amazing venue. Lucy described it as “interesting, engaging, informative and inspiring”. You can’t sum it up much better than that!

Work experience

Gillingham School Year 12 students have recently taken part in a week’s work experience. This provided them with the opportunity to develop new skills and build their confidence in the work place. As a school we have been well supported by local employers, with placements across a range of occupations including solicitors, primary schools, veterinary practices, dance schools, sports coaching, museums, conservation organisations, charities and hospital trusts.

work experienceOf particular note was the work experience undertaken by Matthew Penney and Peter Lavis (pictured), who worked with Gillingham Town Council. Their task was to research and cost out plans to redevelop the playing fields on Harding’s Lane, behind Riversmeet. This involved liaising with staff and contractors, researching funding and grants, and finally presenting the various options to the attending councillors and Gillingham Mayor Barry Von Clemens.

The final presentation was described as ‘exceptional and showcased their maturity, confidence and erudition’ with the councillors universally positive about their work throughout the week and the quality of the final presentation. Both students hope to continue playing a role in this re-development when the public consultation is opened and plan to build stronger links between the school and town council moving forward. We are very proud of their work, which will be of benefit to the local community.

Gillingham School would like to thank all employers for their support in providing work experience for our students – it provides them with invaluable opportunities for their personal development.

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