Oakgrove were crowned champions of the Milton Keynes Schools Parliamentary Debate Competition after a strongly contested final in the Houses of Parliament on Thursday (21/04).
Both Oakgrove and St. Paul’s had reached the final after numerous rounds of the competition which has now been run by the local Members Of Parliament for the last 13 years.
Iain Stewart, the MP for Milton Keynes South, and Ben Everitt, the MP for Milton Keynes North, were in attendance in the Grand Committee Room, where Westminster Hall debates are usually held.
The schools were asked to debate whether the United Kingdom should put troops on the ground in Ukraine, with St. Paul’s selected to argue in favour and Oakgrove chosen to argue against.
The final was judged by representatives from the Open University, the Milton Keynes Chamber of Commerce and the Milton Keynes Youth Cabinet.
Iain Stewart MP said: “It was brilliant to be able to host the final of the debate competition in the Houses of Parliament again and welcome the debaters, their family and their teachers onto the Parliamentary Estate.
“The debate was incredible to listen to with Oakgrove and St Paul’s providing excellent arguments, interventions and counters throughout. I am already looking forward to next year’s competition!
“I want to take this opportunity to say well done to all the schools that participated in this year’s competition, particularly to Oakgrove School who were this year’s winners. Also, thank you to the judges for having the difficult task of choosing a winner.
Ben Everitt MP commented: “The debate was an absolutely fantastic showcase for the incredible young talent we have here in Milton Keynes and I wouldn’t be surprised to see any of the finalists standing in the House Of Commons one day.
“Both schools had well-researched arguments, were passionate, articulate and respectful and it was genuinely fascinating to hear arguments for and against.
“So a huge congratulations to Oakgrove for their amazing achievement but also to St. Paul’s and every other school that took part – it’s such a brave thing to do and we had such a high level of competition this year.”
Laurie Markatos, History and Politics teacher at St Paul’s Catholic School, said: “The politics students of St. Paul’s really grew in their capacity as critical thinkers during this debate process. They honed their research skills, improve their public speaking ability, and were able to respond to challenges by thinking on their feet.
“I could not be more proud of all the students, not only for their academic work, but for also the care and concern they showed each other throughout the competition. Though it was fierce and spirited at times, all the students came out winners in the end for having grown as critical thinkers and have realized the impact that they can have on society.
“The experience at Parliament with meeting the MPs and the incredible tour left our students really motivated to make an impact and they are both now thinking ahead to career in politics.
“This would not have been possible with the impression that the MPs and the competition left on them. We look forward again to competing next year! We thank both Mr. Stewart and Mr. Everitt for taking the time to see this competition through all the COVID hurdles so that our students could see their potential.”
Following the final and the presentation of the award’s shield, Ben and Iain gave the students, their parents and teachers a tour of the Houses Of Parliament and took part in a Q&A.