Award argues well for students' abilities

GIFTED public speakers from Hampstead School have triumphed once again at a global debating conference

Ben McPartland

GIFTED public speakers from Hampstead School have triumphed once again at a global debating conference.

A delegation of students won the prize for best overall team at this year's Model United Nations Conference.

The 20-strong Hampstead team returned victorious from the event in Glasgow last month and will add the trophy to the one they picked up at the same event in Belfast last year.

History teacher Andrea Smith said: "This is a fantastic achievement for the school, the team and for each individual student who took part."

Hampstead students also won several commendations for individual achievement, including Harry Farmer and Simeon Wallis, both in Year 12, who, as the key Security Council representatives, had the privilege of debating at the Scottish Parliament.

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Simeon said: "The Hampstead team was delighted because we have always tried to emulate the United Nations ethos of consensus-building as a solution to world problems."

At this year's event, the students were divided into committees and were given the challenge of having to persuade other members to agree with a resolution they put forward, which would then be debated over.

The delegates were also given the task of responding to a mock crisis which this year was an uprising in a remote part of China.

After three days of discussions and deals, the Westbere Road school came out on top and beat some prestigious rivals, including delegations from Eton and the London Oratory School.

Ms Smith said the school came out on top because of its diverse student body.

"They have a natural interest in world events," she said. "We very much encourage them to have their own individual opinions, responsibilities and interests.

"We try to target the good debaters as they come through the school. Sometimes it's obvious even at 12 years old who will be a good debater - they will be able to stand up in front of a crowd and not be intimidated.

"Debating helps the students hone their skills of speaking and writing under pressure. It all fits very well with the school's ethos.

"We have a popular debating club in school where we will train the students and then, when they feel ready for the stiff competition, we encourage them to take part in the Model United Nations Conference."