Friday 17th Feb 2023

French Debating Competition




By Robert (DG/Year 12)

On 2 February, four pupils and two members of staff travelled to Whitgift School to compete in the annual regional Joutes Oratoires (verbal jousting), which is a French debating competition.

The competition, which is organised by the UK’s French Institute, is open to all sixth form students in England and Wales. The topics this year were ‘Mathematics should be compulsory for A levels/le bac’, ‘The art market has corrupted the world of art’ and ‘The police is overequipped – we should disarm the guardians of the country’.

Each debate consisted of a pair of pupils from a school facing off against another pair from a different school, following the debating rules of the English Debating Society. The most exciting part of the event is ‘la lutte acharnée’ (fierce clash) where both teams get the chance to respond to something the opposition may have said, while defending their position on the motion in real-time.

Lots of preparation went into CH’s participation in this event, with the School’s French assistant Estelle Maurel working tirelessly with the pupils over the weeks leading up to the event to help refine their arguments, but also to ready them for what, for most, was their first time speaking French at such a prestigious competition.

Polly-Anna (DG/Year 12) and Daphne (GR/Year 13) made up the first team, while the second team consisted of Charlene (DG/Year 12) and Robert (DG/Year 12); accompanying them to Whitgift were the head of French Mr Hollands and the French assistant Ms Maurel.

Unfortunately, the results didn’t quite go CH’s way, but the contests were all very closely fought, and the teams were praised by the judges for their structure and the teamwork they brought to the competition.

Competitor Pollyanna stated after the competition that it was ‘an engaging debate and a great opportunity to practise French.’

While possibly apprehensive before the event, all the pupils remarked after the competition that they had relished the opportunity, and those in Year 12 stated their desire to compete again next year. The competitors were very grateful to their teachers for their support and to Whitgift for hosting; overall, it was a great experience for all!