15 Nov 2018: Sherborne Girls victorious at inaugural Debating Matters Dorset Championship

Dorset sees a fiercely competitive day of high-quality school debating, tackling big ideas

Dorset championship

An excellent team from Sherborne Girls School beat seven other schools from Dorset and surrounding counties to win the coveted Debating Matters Dorset trophy at an enthralling day of debate hosted by Sherborne Girls School.

Ultimately, Sherborne Girls impressed all the judges and schools with their sharp ideas, polished delivery and outstanding research, passing unbeaten through the group stage and then coming out on top in a thrilling final on artificial intelligence to be crowned Debating Matters Dorset Champions 2018.

Sherborne Girls School, the winners of Debating Matters Dorset
Sherborne Girls School, the winners of Debating Matters Dorset

Gillingham School were Sherborne’s opponents in the final, and also argued intelligently throughout a day that included debates on ‘Social egg freezing empowers women’, ‘Monuments to controversial historical figures should remain’, ‘Universal basic income is not a solution to our social and economic problems’ and ‘Humanity should fear advances in artificial intelligence’.

The runners-up, Gillingham School
The runners-up, Gillingham School

During the day, a team of distinguished judges – including Sunday Times bestselling novelist Lulu Taylor, Michael Bowes QC, former soldier Lieutenant General Andrew Graham, and former diplomat and now visiting professor of international relations at King’s College London, Myles Wickstead – put the students under serious intellectual pressure to justify their positions. As ever at Debating Matters, the students relished the opportunity to show off their research and demonstrate their arguments.

The judges also awarded Libby Cheleda from Leweston School the prize of ‘Best Individual’ for her consistently penetrating questions, with Freya Chapman of Dauntsey’s School and Tom Hollingsworth of Gillingham School picking up the ‘Highly Commended’ and ‘Commended’ titles respectively.

Libby Cheleda of Leweston School, receiving the Best Individual prize
Libby Cheleda of Leweston School, receiving the Best Individual prize

1.    For further information about the event, the Debating Matters competition or to request photos or interviews with students, teachers, judges and other participants, please contact Jacob Reynolds on 020 7269 9231 or email
2.    The students were all Year 12 and 13 sixth-form students from:
Dauntsey’s School, Devizes
Gillingham School
Leweston School, Sherborne
Sherborne Girls School
St Mary’s School, Shaftesbury
The Burgate School and Sixth-Form Centre, Fordingbridge
The Gryphon School, Sherborne
Truro School
3. Created in 2002, Debating Matters is a national sixth-form debating competition for students from around the UK. DM offers a fresh, accessible and engaging format for debating contemporary real-world issues, with an emphasis on substance, not just style of debating, and the importance of taking ideas seriously.
4. Debating Matters is a project of the Academy of Ideas. The Academy of Ideas was founded in 2000 to provide a forum committed to open and robust public debate in which ideas can be interrogated, argued for and fought over. The Academy of Ideas organises intelligent public debates, including an annual festival of discussion and debate in London, the Battle of Ideas.
5. Follow Debating Matters on Twitter: @DebatingMatters


Thursday 27 June:
Oxfordshire Championship at Oxford Union, in partnership with Magdalen College School and Oxford Festival of Arts

Friday 5 July:
North East Championship at Durham Sixth Form Centre


Find a list of all our previous championship events here.


Bernie Whelan, our DM coordinator, is raising money for Debating Matters. To stage one of our Championships for six to 12 teams costs £6,000. Find out more on Bernie’s Wonderful fundraising page.


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