Bercow Debate – Annual inter school competition

Bercow Debate

On Friday 24th February, we held our fourth Bercow Debate, an annual inter school competition, run by Akeley’s Senior Debate team under the watchful eye of the Rt Hon John Bercow MP – who has kindly lent his name to it.


This year, due to unforeseen, last minute changes, only two schools were able to join us, therefore, Royal Latin, Thornton College and Akeley – who consequently had to double up at the last minute – battled it out over three rounds. The topics up for discussion included – This House Would: honour its commitment under the Dubs Amendment; allow genetically modified plants and wildlife to be introduced/released into the wild; and continue UK membership of the European Convention on Human Rights.

The audience of students, parents and staff were active questioners, grilling the teams about their arguments; and Mr Bercow offered feedback to all those who took part.


In the first round, chaired by Sophie Burgin, Max Boothby made his debating debut, alongside Christian Nielson-Evans and Phoebe Cowell, against an all-girl team from the Royal Latin, debating the honouring of the Dubs amendment. Akeley was narrowly beaten in this round and Phoebe promptly swapped hats to chair the second debate – this time with Thornton debating against Akeley 2 on the subject of genetic modification. Again, Mr Bercow had the unenviable task of putting one team through and Thornton pipped Akeley at the post to compete in the final. After a hard-fought debate about protecting our human rights, the Royal Latin eventually beat Thornton, to win the evening overall.


Mr Bercow then rounded up the event with some formative advice about debating and public speaking, intermixed with some interesting and amusing insights and anecdotes from his political career – ending up with the offer of coming back next year, if we would like him to. Needless to say, that offer was very promptly accepted, and we look forward to next year’s Bercow debate!

My thanks go to: Morgan Sanders, for timekeeping for all three debate rounds; Ruth Norman for looking after Mr Bercow; Sarah Jones for keeping a note of audience questions; Josh Ponte for helping to co-ordinate Akeley’s debaters; and Akeley’s wonderful catering staff for putting on such a lovely spread, so that we could all ‘graze’ contentedly between debates. Not to mention all the audience members and visiting teams who made it such a great night.


Lisa Stone

English Teacher

Akeley Wood Senior School





Akeley Wood School