Year 9 Activities Week: EU Referendum Debate
The half term holiday is nearly upon us and the break will undoubtedly be welcomed by our friends in Year 11 and the 6th Form who are gripped by the latest round of external GCSE and A-Level exams. Yet as the sun is going down on this half term, dawn today broke on a European Referendum debate, hosted by Mr. Hughes as part of Year 9 activities week.
Commanding the almost unwavering attention of the rather salubrious audience, Mr. Hughes explained with typical eloquence the founding and later development of what has become the EU, describing its origins as the European Steel and Coal community through to the signing of the Lisbon treaty. As if proceedings could grow any more tense, the minds of the students were attacked with the multifarious collection of dates and names bombarded upon them as an EU themed clip was unveiled – it seems that even when discussing international politics, the basic instincts of a geography teacher can never be suppressed.
Perplexing it almost certainly was, but soon that ambiance of sheer confusion was to be deepened and consolidated even further by the infamous ability of George Wright to manifest a variegated display of incomprehensible rhetoric as he advocated for a British withdrawal. Citing the intervention from President Obama as hypocritical, he dismissed the European Union as an undemocratic, interfering, bureaucratic nightmare that Britain should abandon on June 23rd.
Next, separated only by yet another short clip about Switzerland, came the case for Remain, put forward to audience by a second coalition of sixth formers – Matti Kingston, Will Smith, Joe Orme-Lumsdon and Ian Westhead.
They condemned the Out campaign for misleading the public on the Norwegian and Swiss alternatives, highlighting the array of organisations warning of cataclysmic repercussions of an exit and the potential downturn that could ensue for the economy. By this time it had become apparent that no presentation can be concluded without a clip of sorts and the Inners courteously obliged, this time projecting a sketch of seemingly ignorant politicians uncovering the facts about what the EU has guaranteed for the British people.
Recognising the need for controversy and spontaneity – or instead in an attempt to scrutinise to the point of embarrassment the sixth form speakers – a head to head debate was promptly organised, during which the knowledge of our friends in Year 9 was truly accentuated as they frequently (and remorselessly) posed thoughtful questions to Bremainians and Brexitiers alike. Wright found himself in a particularly invidious position after proposing terrorists be deported from Britain and being forced to clarify his statement “One is a lie, the other is a camouflaged truth.”
Ultimately, it would be the people themselves who would judge how persuasively the arguments and counterarguments had been conveyed. Like a torrent sloshing down a poorly dredged river, a cascade of infants emerged as the voters could barely control their excitement at inserting an A5 piece of paper into a disproportionately tall, black box whose lid lay slightly ajar on the coffee-stained lecture theatre desk.
Although the Brexitiers had nearly triumphed in 2 of the 3 rounds of voting (recording an impressive 50% swing from the initial poll), the 3rd round would prove to be the great victory for Bremainers, who, despite having witnessed the desertion of 75% of their army (who had left to revise for exams), clenched a convincing win for the cause, assisted, it should not be left unsaid, by the ever-riveting and persuasive anecdotes of Mr. Hughes and the topical application of Mr. Rixon’s Shakespearian knowledge (despite conceding to “talking from the depths of ignorance”).
The final result was 91 votes for Remain and 55 for Exit.
Nevertheless, the final word was given to Nigel Farage, catalysing an immeasurable eruption of laughter when he labelled an EU politician a ‘damp rag’ and declared Belgium to be ‘a non country.’
The Bournemouthian wishes to bestow special recognition to Mr. Hughes, Mr. Rixon and Mr. Leigh who played an essential role in the running of the event and controlling the understandable euphoria of the Year 9 students.
We would also like to encourage more of this sort of event to take place; education needs to branch out from the confines of curriculums to inform young people of the political events currently taking place around them. Listening to propaganda being churned out by politicians only creates ignorance; open discussions analysing the facts and illustrating the different sides of the arguments from different perspectives hugely helps young people to understand, to contribute and to play a role.