At the heart of our curriculum offering at Ryelands is a determination to empower all pupils to use their voices effectively. One of the key ways in which we develop these characteristics is through teaching debating in Upper Key Stage 2. Debating is when teams of students compose and deliver arguments around important policy issues, such as climate change or how the country should be run. By doing this, the children are learning more about the world they live in and their place in it as local, national and global citizens. While the language, techniques and rigour of debating is woven throughout our teachers' classroom practice, we also offer a number of extra-curricular and enrichment opportunities to supplement this.
What do we do?
Each year, we enter groups of children from Years 5 and 6 into formal debating competitions. These are accredited by organisations such as Debate Mate and see our pupils face schools from across the country. The independence, confidence and resilience they develop from these experiences are profound and transfer into their school and wider lives with huge benefits.
We have a Debating Club that allow students to develop and progress in their skills. Each term Debate Mate send trained mentors to develop the children's debating skills.
Why do we do it?
There are many benefits to be gained from debating, but we believe they can be grouped into three main areas:
Students who are taught how to debate learn to value their voice more highly and use it more effectively. This ability to speak up and make themselves heard is a huge boost in confidence and sees them engage far more easily and purposefully in class discussions and their wider life.
Survey after survey has found that employers most value communication skills within prospective employees, as well as characteristics such as resilience, independence and critical thinking. These are exactly the skills and attributes that debating, both within the classroom and beyond, develops. Therefore, by giving our children the opportunity to debate, we are setting them up with the best chance to succeed in later study and in their working life.
c) Academic achievement
Research now proves the positive classroom impacts that come from children learning how to debate. A major study by the Education Endowment Foundation in 2015 found that students who learn through debating made an additional two months’ progress in English and science, and one additional month’s progress in maths, compared with those not taught this way. Separate research has shown that children both enjoy their lessons more and remember a greater amount of what they have learned when taught in ways that use their debating skills.