Blackpool Sixth hosts thrilling debate final at Town Hall to conclude Peace and Conflict Conference

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Blackpool Sixth recently held a  Year 10 Peace and Conflict Conference, which took place at the college over four Thursdays in May. This enriching event brought together students from local schools to engage in meaningful debates, develop crucial skills, and gain a deeper understanding of peace and conflict in history and in the modern world.

The conference kicked off with ethical debates where students tackled complex issues, honing their critical thinking and argumentation skills. Schools involved debated topics such as the ethics of targeting civilians in conflict, prompting deep ethical considerations.

In the second week, participants received a comprehensive session on conflict in the 20th and 21st centuries, with a particular focus on Afghanistan. This session laid the groundwork for a more profound understanding of contemporary conflicts.

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The third week featured a special session where students had the unique opportunity to interview Sgt Rick Clement, a survivor and veteran of Afghanistan. This interaction provided invaluable insights into the personal experiences and challenges faced during conflict, enriching the students' perspectives.

Participants of the final debate with the Mayor, Mayoress, and Deputy Mayor of BlackpoolParticipants of the final debate with the Mayor, Mayoress, and Deputy Mayor of Blackpool
Participants of the final debate with the Mayor, Mayoress, and Deputy Mayor of Blackpool

The conference culminated in an exciting series of debates between schools on various conflict-related topics. Students showcased their research and public speaking abilities in front of an engaged audience. Notable debates included St Bede's Catholic High School vs Cardinal Allen Catholic High School on the effectiveness of diplomacy and peace treaties, and Montgomery Academy vs Blackpool Sixth’s Debate Team on whether nuclear parity would prevent World War III.

The final debates took place at Blackpool Town Hall and were judged by the Mayor, Mayoress, and Deputy Mayor of Blackpool. The atmosphere was electric as students presented their well-researched arguments with confidence and passion. Saint Aidan's Church of England School emerged victorious in the final debate, impressing the judges with their eloquence and reasoning. Seren Morris from St. Aidan's shared, "I thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to participate in the conferences and I particularly enjoyed hearing the different opinions and stances in the debates." Meanwhile, Cardinal Allen Catholic High School was declared the overall conference champion for their outstanding performance throughout the event.

Blossom Martinez from Cardinal Allen reflected on her experience, saying, "Participating in the debate was a boost to my confidence. I pushed myself to do the introduction speech and am happy I got this opportunity." Her classmate, Matilda Laird also found the experience enlightening, stating, "I learnt a lot about the world around me that I didn't know before."

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Blackpool Sixth’s Excellence Programme Coordinator Peter Wright said: “It was fantastic to host this competition in the Council Chamber of the Town Hall. Each school team gave a brilliant public speaking performance which really impressed our VIP judges! Taking part in debates and developing public speaking is just one part of the college's Excellence Programme which provides students with a platform to make strong applications to top universities and competitive apprenticeship providers.”

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The Year 10 Peace and Conflict Conference at Blackpool Sixth has been an inspiring and educational journey for all participants. Students not only improved their research, teamwork, and public speaking skills but also developed a deeper understanding of complex global issues.

We extend our heartfelt thanks to Sgt Rick Clement for his participation, to the esteemed judges for their time and expertise, and to all the schools and students who made this event a remarkable success.