NSW Premier's Debating Challenge 2022 - Primary Schools State Debating Championships final

Duration: 43:58

For the first time since 2019 the 10 different regions across NSW selected their very best primary school debaters to represent them at these championships which were held over 4 days in November. Each of regional representative teams debated 5 times on a series of unseen topics with just one hour of unassisted preparation time. Following those rounds and 2 semi-final debates, the Riverina and the Hunter/Central Coast made it through to this final debate.

The speaking time is 4 minutes (with a warning bell at 3 minutes and a continuous bell if they reach 5 minutes) and the topic of the debate is ‘That student leaders should be picked at random once a term.’ Congratulations to these 2 teams and to all of the speakers who were selected as one of the top primary debaters in their region for 2022.

1st affirmative – 0:00:48
1st negative – 0:06:05
2nd affirmative – 0:11:18
2nd negative – 0:15:50
3rd affirmative – 0:21:00
3rd negative – 0:26:11
Adjudication – 0:31:06

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Transcript – NSW Premier's Debating Challenge 2022 - Primary Schools State Debating Championships final

[intro music]

LUCY HENDERSON: Welcome to the state final of Primary School State Debating Championships. This debate is between Hunter Central Coast and Riverina. The affirmative team is from Riverina. First speaker Eva, second speaker Liana, third speaker Matilda, and fourth speaker Amy. The negative team is from Hunter Central Coast. First speaker Milla, second speaker Skylar, third speaker Hannah, and fourth speaker Maggy.

The adjudicators for this debate are Ellie, Gemma, Desmond, and Jeremiah. The speaking time for this debate is 4 minutes. There'll be a warning bell at 3 minutes, 2 bells and 4 minutes, and a continuous bell at 5 minutes. The topic for this debate that is, 'That student leaders should be picked at a random once term'. Finally, please take a moment to show that all mobile phones are switched off. Now, please welcome the first affirmative speaker to open the debate.


EVA TILSON: Ladies and gentlemen, adjudicators, and chairpeople, we, the affirmative team, are here to tell you about a massive problem in this country. We believe the kids in primary and high school minorities have no voice and school governments are highly biassed. Now we need to talk about how this change would go ahead.

We want every school leader to be picked out at random once a term. It would be best done by randomly picking system that will eliminate improper fit for their jobs. There will be cards in a box with everyone in the years that contains name's in it. And they will be able to-- the teachers will be able to remove children's names if firstly, a student feels uncomfortable with this and would rather not have the job, if they don't like being a leader and don't like the extra responsibility.

Secondly, if a student highly misbehaves, such as hurting a peer or disrupting class a lot or if a teacher sees that they're constantly being rude and thinks that they need a punishment. This will eliminate students that make the school a worse place for everyone. They will get another chance next time though, if they improve their behaviour.

It'll go into effect in primary schools and high schools. In primary schools, we'll pick 2 candidates from Year 5 and 2 from Year 6. And in high schools, one student from every year level. These students will meet once a week to discuss ways to make the school a better place and ways to raise money. This system will result in the students being randomly picked out in schools all across Australia by the start of next year.

Now my first point is that everyone will get a chance to be a student leader. And my second argument is that it will be-- we will get different views from different students in different backgrounds, and they will have different opinions. And my second speaker will talk about how it will motivate kids to be better and follow instructions and how this will actually look in real life. And my third speaker will crush all remaining arguments at the end of this debate.

Our team's first argument will show that student leaders should be picked at random once a term because all students will get a chance to show their full potential. Right now, students from minorities are not able to get a chance to share their views and speak to their school because most students are voting in popular people and not people from different backgrounds and other groups. Bullied kids and less popular groups are not able to show their full potential because currently the voting system is biassed, as students only vote for people in larger groups or their friends.

After the change will be great. Because if this change is not implemented, students may not be able to vote most of the time. But they can't be biassed and tell people, vote for my sister or vote for my best friend. And they're not widening their votes on people who they think will do best for the job because they are only voting for people who they know. Everyone will now get a chance.

Even if they aren't popular because as we stated in our definition, it will mostly be based on people who are good. That's important because teachers have more control over who gets it. As now, it won't be based on who the students think should be voted in because students are mostly biassed as they only vote for people they know and like.

These will impact the large group of people in a good way because all the minorities of groups will all have a chance to give their opinions and show their potential. For example, currently, students are only voting for people they like-- siblings, best friends, and even popular groups-- because kids don't understand who is the right person and it is causing them to be biassed. And if this change is implemented, it will mostly be based on the people who have been good.

Now on to our team's second argument, which will show how this new change will give students-- give views from all different types of students. Right now, all the views in school councils are from popular groups and the majority. But all the majority groups, which-- minority groups, which probably add up to more than the majority in most schools are overlooked, not getting a say in how school governments are run and not showing what changes need to be made.

Imagine if a kid is being bullied, teased, and called names. The kid bullying them would probably go around spreading rumours and saying nasty things. And the student would not get voted in because everyone would think there's something wrong with them. And they can be scared instead of telling teachers in fear of being bullied more.

But a teacher sees this kid is well-behaved, and they are not removed the draw, and can become school leader. And without having to directly say they are being bullied, they will feel safe to say that we need to look more into bullying because I've seen kids being bullied. So you see how often the change things will be much better for students and minorities.

And this could work for artsy kids saying, something about new arts supplies instead of being mostly sporty popular kids with new sports equipment. Kids who like reading, drama, art, sports, writing, maths, science, and so much more will be able to have a say in what they think we need more of in schools. That's important because we need everyone to be able to have a say and enjoy school. We don't--


MILLA VLATKO: The opposition stated that it will remove people from this job, if their behaviour is bad. We disagree for three reasons. Number one, if children are removed from this job or aren't able to have this job, they'll get frustrated and may become quite rebellious and act up because they just aren't happy that they cannot have the job.

Our second point is that they might not have done something super bad and might not actually deserve to be removed from this job. It'll make them feel really bad and negative towards themselves and will affect their mental health because they actually haven't done anything bad enough.

And our final point is that if they have done something bad, they can get the captain next term. And that's what they said, because they might be good after that point. But they can still be silly in these roles because children, especially when they're in these roles, they feel like they can show off. And they feel like they're strong enough and cool enough since they're in these position, that they can do whatever they want and that they can act up.

The opposition said that this change will give voices to all groups. We disagree because not all kids are actually going to get a chance. Since there's only four terms in a year and only two captains are going to be chosen from each school once a term, which means that this doesn't necessarily mean that all groups are going to be accounted for. And certainly, not all groups each term. This is not a fair way to do this and not all children are going to be able to have a say every term.

Right now, children are choosing their leaders, choosing who to represent them. Their groups, their culture, themselves. Children have the right to democracy as much as adults do. We have to give them this chance, this opportunity. And we mustn't take the risk of choosing children's for leaders at random. We agree with the definition of the offensive team, but we strongly disagree with their case.

Me, the first speaker of the negative team, will prove to you that children deserve to choose their leaders and how some kids aren't sensible or responsible enough to have to have their leader chosen at random for a leadership role. Our second speaker will explain how some children will realise that being a leader can make you feel insecure and nervous. And our final point is how it is unfair for other kids who don't get a term.

Our first argument will show that every child has the right to vote who to represent them. What is wrong with that? If we pick kids at random, kids lose that basic right. Imagine if you were someone who wanted something specific, like if you were transgender. You'd be required to have your leader chosen at random. How would this person possibly stand up for you and represent you, if they don't understand your culture, beliefs, or feelings? They can't.

And it is certainly not helping that they're only a leader for a term. It means that children can't even get to know their leader, and the leader can't know them, meaning that children can feel like they don't have a voice, making them feel sad, insignificant, and insecure. And for such a morally significant stakeholder, children, they need to feel comfortable to be who they are. So remember, children must be able to vote for their leaders.

My second point will be about misbehaving students who will set a bad example for the other kids if they get in these leadership roles. Kids look up to their school leaders. So if the students picked to do this job have poor behaviour, younger kids will see and think, hey, the school captain does that, I can do that too.

And even if this behaviour isn't seen when they're not doing this, it might not have been noticed by a teacher, so when they do get in this role, they might do this behaviour that they haven't done before. Having good role models for kids is extremely important as they really have an impact on how students act, especially at that age because they can be swayed so easily by role models and what they do. They really depend on role models and what they say and act.

Imagine if-- plus, we all know how many important job school leaders have to do, speaking at events like assemblies, handing out awards, and helping out teachers. Imagine if a misbehaving, unresponsible kid is put in charge of all this, it simply wouldn't work. This is why we don't just pick school leaders at random. It is to prevent this.

For example, if a teacher asks a student to write some awards, but they don't do it well. And they hand it out to a child, the award might be wet, crumpled, ruined, and in messy handwriting and might not actually have been given to the child for a proper reason. This can have a terribly negative effect on the child who receives it, thinking that, oh, I didn't really deserve this.

And even if they did, it will seem like it's not a thing that they can actually keep because it's ruined. And there's no point in it anyway. And it will be bad for the parents because they will be ashamed and hurt that their child didn't actually get the proper recognition that they deserved. And that is why we must not let children-- we must not let children pick their leaders at random.


LIANA MURRAY: My team so far recognise two main points. The first point feeling-- children feel that they won't get a voice. This change is actually going to help them because in the first point, children get even less of a voice. The only children getting voted in are the popular kids and only 4 from each-- for the entirety of the school and from the leading years, meaning with this change, they'll get even more of a voice rather than less of a voice.

And they also stated that when they don't get the role, they'll get frustrated because when they get their name taken out, they'll be frustrated because they don't get the role. But we've also stated that they'll get more tries after this. And after they've been bad, they only get taken out for the single term. And they will get another turn to work on this behaviour.

And the second point is about role models, like if the school captain does it, then I can do it too. But we've already fixed this problem by in our definition stating that the kids that are being bad and naughty on multiple occasions will get their name taken out. As so the role modelling point is completely irrelevant to this debate.

Now on to my arguments. That this new model will motivate kids to behave well. Allow me to explain. Right now, kids have no larger reason to behave well or any large stakes that they will get taken out of if they misbehave constantly. Kids that are constantly getting suspended, having reflections or detentions have no large consequences other than they are lectured by their teacher or losing some time out of their day.

We have a massive, but easy and effective way to fix that. For instance, before the change, all students get for consequences are lost time, having to do extra work, or getting lectured by a teacher. But if our amazing and effective model is introduced, there'll be a much larger consequence.

For example, in class, there is a misbehaving student, constantly talking, and annoying everyone. They've been doing this all year and the teacher's trying to figure out a bigger consequence, as after one lunchtime every single week, they've simply not improving. The teacher calls them up and says, you no longer can become a student leader. I'm taking you out of the draw. You will get a chance next term, however, if you improve your behaviour.

Not only will this stop a student from affecting the student council, but they will understand that they now can have an impact or be an important leader. From this point on, this student will try to stop misbehaving and distracting class so that they can join the Student Leader Council. From that point on, not only will this change affect the school and inputs in the way the first speaker noted, but create a more focused and beneficial learning environment.

This model will improve education in a massive way, improving students' lives and Australia. And now, I'll give you a more in-depth explanation of what the student council will actually look like. At the end of every term, the current student leaders will head over to either a large bowl filled with paper slips bearing names or random generator. The names will not be included as once they have done it for a term, they can't do it until next year.

Once the names have been drawn, the student will receive badges to name them as council and booklets detailing when the meeting points are. Every student on this council, not only is sensible and behaving, previously mentioned, but has multiple different views and ideas, as well as being minorities given a chance. Also previously mentioned, at weekly meetings, they'll be either a vice principal or principal present and everybody voted in as well.

The children will discuss problems around the school and ideas for fund raisers. With all the different opinions and ideas, so many improvements will be made to the school. This change will not only benefit all learning environments, as I explained in my argument, but every learning space will be made to its full potential. That is why you should agree entirely that student leaders should be picked at random once a term.


SKYLAR HE: The affirmative team stated being taken out of the draw is a good consequence. This is wrong. One, a child may not even particularly care about being a school leader. And two, they may not have the skills that are required to be a good school leader. The opposing team stated that there would be bullying. We disagree because bullying could be even worse. The candidate who gets the position will be bullied. Therefore, this point is irrelevant.

The affirmative team stated that only popular kids will get voted in. We disagree for two reasons. Most children are popular because they are good at lots of things and are kind and funny, not because they are mean and unfair. So there is no issue with children obeying their leaders. Two, they will get chosen because they'll actually will be a good leader, and they'll represent the school well.

The opposition stated that if a student is bad or not sensible, they will ban them for the term. We disagree for two reasons. What's the point of the change if we just ban them? You guys even stated that everyone will get a chance. If we do this, then most kids won't actually get a chance. They'll be frustrated, because they finally got a chance to be a school leader. But now, it's taken away? Therefore, most kids won't even try anymore for the next term.

My team's third argument that needs to be addressed is the amount of unnecessary responsibility. And what's worse is that the students are picked at random. If a student actually volunteered and wanted to take on that responsibility, then that is more fair. But if students who either don't want to or don't have the time and responsibility to, we shouldn't have to force them. These students should be motivated to do this.

Currently, because it is a student's choice to stand up there and represent their school, they know that they're ready to take on this responsibility, and they know what they have to do. This is a reason why we allow students to volunteer. If everything is fine right now, why are we changing so soon?

However, if we apply this change, then some kids may have way too much responsibility, which causes stress. Stress is a major issue, especially in schools. And if we force a student in to lead their school, they will be overwhelmed with stress. These results could be detrimental, like failing in class and failing to be a good school leader. We must not allow this to happen.

This is vital and crucial because if this position affects their education and learning, it could also impact their future. They wouldn't concentrate in class anymore, and will be too worried about having to speak in assembly that day. Plus the requirements at those-- that these school leader's positions make kids miss out on important class lessons because they have to do the roles of school leaders.

For example, a student is in a lesson, but they're called to help out with the assembly after lunch. This is so unfair because one, it is taking out valuable learning time for them. And two, it is forcing them to do something that they don't even want to do. This can easily be avoided if we just don't change anything. Students get to volunteer and they actually want to do this. That's why it is so important that we do not pick students at random for school leaders once a term. And this is just one of the many reasons why.

My second point will show how insecure and unsure students will be about becoming a leader. A lot of kids are simply uncomfortable with being in a leadership position. So this change will negatively impact a tonne of kids or students may feel insecure about their leadership style. They're making that they aren't good enough.

To go deeper into these kid's mind, imagine how you would feel if you're extremely shy, timid, and hated talking to people. Then suddenly, you're picked to be a leader? What goes through your mind? I can't do this. I'm not good enough. Imagine having these upsetting thoughts go through your mind on a daily basis. We just simply cannot see why this is worth it. Do we want to make kids feel this way? The well-being of students is extremely important to us. And this change does not support it.

The final point that the negative team would like to propose is how unfair this leadership decision is. Imagine the students who actually want this vote so badly and actually deserve it. If we pick at random, it's unlikely they will receive a chance when they are actually the ones who had the potential to be a great leader. And what about the students who aren't sensible? The ones who don't care about the role at all, they'll probably mess up the whole system. We should not risk this chance.

This method is a ridiculous idea because it isn't going to benefit anyone whatsoever. We do understand that most votes are based on popularity, but at least those students want to do this, and at least they know what it requires. For example, a student really badly wants to be student leader, and they know what to do and what is best for their school. However, the role was taken because a vote was done randomly. That's why we must not pick school leaders randomly every term.


MATILDA SANSON: During this debate, I've seen three main points come up, the overall impact on the child and behaviour, giving everyone a chance to a leadership role, and missing out on a leadership role. Well, first of all, for overall impact on a child, the other team has stated that kids will feel insecure if they're just brought out of a hat to be school captain. But like we said in our definition, if they feel insecure originally and don't really want to be put in the hat to be chosen at, they don't have to be. So that therefore makes that point invalid.

And I think that I have stated is that if the school captains have poor behaviour, once they're voted in for the term, and still get voted in, but we've already stated in our definition that it can be taken away. And if they have poor behaviour earlier, it will be taken away either way. So that leaves that invalid. Another thing that they've said is children will realise how hard it is to fill one of these leadership roles, but after all, that's why they get the choice.

The other team has also stated that kids will become rebellious and will be upset thinking they did nothing wrong because they didn't get the positions. Firstly, students like receiving prize and being in control and will be good just to have the power. Secondly, they will be clearly told what they did wrong like you drew a pot-- like you walked-- like you messed with another kid in class.

Now-- and with that point of students with poor behaviour and with students who are getting poor behaviour, our impact is much more beneficial because with our impact, it makes students want to be in a leadership role. And it will help their poor behaviour become better because they will want to be in this leadership role in the end.

And now onto missing out. The other team has actually stated generally that some students will miss out. But they are technically agreeing with us, because with their point, they have stated that when students vote, there are still going to be kids missing out either way. And with us, we have also stated that kids earlier on in their-- that have already had one of these positions can't get it later on in the year. That leaves that point invalid.

Just like I said, another thing that I've stated like that is they will be waiting all year for a position, but that's another reason that we've made it in high school. In case there is a lot of kids in one class, and they happen to not get it, which is very unlikely. We've made it in high school as well so that they will get that chance, and then everyone will get a term. Another thing that they've stated is once they-- like I just said, once they've done it that year, they can't do it again because I also stated once again, that they would be waiting so that was invalid.

And now with the impact of missing out, when people are announced-- if people are missing it, it is because of a much larger-- there is a much larger group of kids. And like I've already stated, there is an option in high school. So that leaves that invalid. But really, when you think of this, if you are doing it their way, where the students vote them in, then in-- then they're going to be biassed. And in secondary, for school captain as well as in primary, then more than likely be the same kids because they are still going to be popular. That puts that point invalid.

Another thing that they have said is to give everyone-- Well, what we have said is that everyone deserves a chance, but they have-- and another thing that I have stated to do with that is that students need to vote. But like we have already stated, students can be biassed. Say, vote for my sibling or it's not going to be fair. And people who even run that aren't popular, they won't think that they will even get it. So they won't even try. And that is not good for a kid's well-being.

The other team also stated students might care about being school captain if they just picked out a hat, like they won't care about being school captain. But they will in general. And then, if they are saying that students vote them in the first place, then won't it be the same? But it won't, because in ours, it would be students who actually would like to do that role. And with this point, we have-- and with our structure--


HANNAH STONEHOUSE: Ladies and gentlemen, today, during my rebuttal, I will assess the two main issues I found in this debate. So I really thought today's debate was centred around two subjects. The first one being, will this new policy be beneficial to all the kids and the school in general? And will this new policy be good for the kids who were selected to be leaders?

So starting at the first subject. Will this new policy be beneficial to the kids in the school who aren't leaders? So we hear from the other team that the kids in the school who aren't selected to be leaders that they're going to miss out and that it is bad, but kids in our other system are also going to miss out anyway. So it's really not that bad because kids are going to miss out either way.

So although this is true, the kids are going to miss out in this system, the kids who are going to miss out in our system are the ones who are undeserving of becoming school leaders. Isn't it better that the people in our system who are missing out are the ones that aren't qualified to become school leaders? But in their system, the kids who are missing out could be ones that are actually better to be school leaders and are ones that could be more beneficial to the school.

The affirmative team also stated that kids will have a choice to become school leaders. We disagree because kids could be bullied and pressured to come in, which could create stress for them. The other team also stated that with the kids in the school, the voting system that they have is biassed and they only pick their friends and people that they like.

Well, the other team is wrong because kids actually do care about the leaders and kids know the power that leaders have because leaders make a lot of decisions in the school. They know the power that they have and how they can impact their lives. So they'll want to be someone who is good and who speaks for all of their opinions, not just their own. They want it to be someone who knows what they want as well and speaks for the entire student body, not just their own opinions and their own needs.

The other team also said that all kids will get a chance, when in their new system, all kids will get a chance to be a leader and in our system, they don't. Well, actually, it's less than 10 kids a year who were going to get to have this opportunity, which certainly isn't everyone who is going to have a voice. And also this is completely random, which means not only, only 10 kids will be picked, but it's not even the 10 best kids. It's just 10 random kids. And so 90% actually don't have a voice.

These kids also could be-- these kids could be bad leaders. And the kids who are good leader's voices won't be heard. And their voices are the most important because we want-- their voices are the most important because we want the good voices to be heard. So that was our team's responses to the other team's arguments about how this will impact all the kids in the school. So this is the most-- these are some of the most vulnerable and morally significant group or stakeholders and we believe that we've protected them better than the other team.

So moving on to the next question. Will this benefit the kids who are selected to be school leaders? The affirmative team stated that the kids-- this is kind of one of the other question. But kids who motivate-- the kids will be motivated to do good when they are not selected to become school leaders. This is sort of in the other question. Actually, we disagree for two reasons because they weren't being motivated at all as only 8 people, only less than 10 people a year get to do it, and it's a very slim chance that they will become.

Also most kids who are naughty, they actually don't have the motives or the qualities to become school leaders. So some of them wouldn't care. If they did care, they would be good because they know the good behaviour would get them in, and these punishments wouldn't be needed anyway. If they are being naughty, then they obviously don't care. And if the only punishment they have receiving is one that they truly don't care about, then that bad behaviour is not going to stop.

Moving on to the next question. The other team's idea was that this policy would be good because the kids who are doing it are going to be-- the kids who are doing it, it's completely fair, and they will get to have a voice. Well, it's good-- well, it is complete-- well, we have a number of reasons why this is wrong.

Firstly, this policy states that leaders will be picked once a term, and less than 10 kids a year will have it, and 95% of kids in the school aren't going to get to speak out. Now if we picked a leader who has the qualities to speak for everyone in the school, then all of the voices of the school would be heard. So let me explain.

If we have a leader who may have good behaviour so is put in the draw, but they only care about their opinions and their needs, and they speak for themselves, not everyone in school, then they're not going to be a good leader. We want to have a leader who speaks for everybody and who is a good leader because they speak for other people's opinions not just their own.

So also these kids who-- so also these kids who are going to be picked to be-- we also hear that from the affirmative team, that kids are going-- So in conclusion-- to conclude, our case benefits, a large group of the most important stakeholders, the kids, which is why our case is certainly stronger than the opposition's.


ELINOR STEPHENSON: All right. Listen, thanks very much everyone, for firstly, a really excellent final that we really enjoyed. But also, a very excellent couple of days of debating as well. It is a really, really massive achievement to have fought your way through so many excellent rounds of debating and ended up here. And I think that both teams just to begin with should be super proud to have spoken in this final and to have done such a great job of it.

I think anyone sitting in the audience today would be very, very impressed with what we heard. This was a debate that was entertaining. It was a debate with lots of great and creative points. I think broadly, these teams tackled this topic super interestingly and creatively. So congratulations everyone.


Additionally, before I get into, I guess, the more fun and interesting parts, I do just want to say thank you to all of the teachers involved in making this couple of days work. You don't get two teams up the front doing a debate without all of the work of their teachers and of all of the teachers of these teams. So I want to say congratulations to the coaches and teachers who contributed to this as well.


All right. So what's going to happen in this adjudication is I'm going to start off with two points of general feedback. And then I'll go through how the panel saw the debate. So firstly, in terms of general feedback. While this was a super good and interesting debate, and we want to pay our compliments to both teams for thinking lots of great points, for analysing those points in quite a lot of detail and broadly being quite responsive. I think there were two things that we could have heard in a bit more depth or had more emphasis on.

The first thing is, I think that both teams could have offered a bit more specific analysis about how kids vote for their school captains or the SSEs in the status quo. So what is actually motivating them to vote for particular students? And why is that? What kind of decisions are they making? And ultimately, what kind of student council or student leadership team do we actually want? What are the kind of attributes that we think kids should be having on these sorts of bodies?

At times, teams were a little bit vague or a little bit general. They would say things like good student leaders, but not necessarily tell us what those people looked like. They would say, that students voted for people who are popular, but not necessarily really describe what made them popular or how those people acted. So just that extra level of specificity could be really helpful for both teams to be kind of giving us a clearer picture of exactly what the status quo looks like and how it might change.

The second piece of feedback is it was really great to see both teams engage a bit with the principal in this debate, to talk about what representation really looks like and why it might be important. But we did think that both teams could do a little bit more work to engage in that principle and talk about why it might matter to be represented and what kind of representation was preferable. So super impressed to see that level of complex arguments.

I guess you only have five minutes, but we would have loved to see even more of it because we thought it was super interesting. All right. I hope that feedback is useful. Let's get into the adjudication. So this debate came down to two issues. The first one was on what side are students better represented. And then the second one was on what side individual students benefited or harmed.

So firstly, on representation. What do we hear from side affirmative? They basically tell us that currently, kids vote in pretty silly ways. They vote for people who might be their siblings or their friends. They vote on the basis of popularity, and they're not necessarily voting meritocratically. They're not picking the people who might be best for the job. They're just picking the people that they like.

And that is unfair because it locks people out of these positions and means they don't get an opportunity to represent their cohort. As I noted in feedback, it would have been good to hear a little bit more detail about who the people who are being locked out of these positions were. We heard that they might be bullied and they might be minorities, but we didn't necessarily hear a lot of detail about why that is.

And I think that negative does respond to this point in a couple of creative and clever ways. Basically what they say is that kids are voting in a legitimate way and they're thinking pretty sensibly about how they're voting, and that was for three reasons. The first thing they say is that kids care about who represents them. They generally want the people who are representing them to be doing a good job, the decisions obviously affect them. And so they do have a stake in picking good representatives, not just people who might be funny and popular.

The second thing they tell us though, is that kids are often popular for good reasons. If you have lots of friends, it's probably because you're a pretty nice kid and you have a good idea about what those kids want. And so maybe it's not such a bad thing that the people who are popular are getting elected.

The final thing that they say is that maybe on side affirmative, specific people's interests are represented. So maybe each term you might have someone who's into drama or reading or music. But on their side, the people who get elected are accountable to the school more broadly because students have been able to have that kind of democratic say on who represents them. And that means that they kind of represent a broader set of interests. And I thought that was quite a complex and quite a mature principle for negative to be running, which was quite clever.

I think that affirmative doesn't necessarily adapt to this line of argumentation as much as they could. So we didn't hear a huge amount of response to the idea that these popular kids might actually be pretty good representatives. They kind of tend to just reemphasise that voting currently works in problematic ways.

So at the end of this idea about representation, while we thought that potentially it was true that sometimes people got elected when they maybe shouldn't be, negative did enough work to prove to us that was often legitimate and that kids could broadly be trusted to be picking people to represent them who would do a good job and who were democratically representative. So what that means is that we think the system that we currently have is probably a bit more representative than that of side affirmative. But it was obviously also important to think about what kind of practical implications this might have. So let's get into that.

On this idea, in terms of the impacts on students, affirmative has two key benefits. The first and most prioritised one is that kids would get a chance to do these roles in a way which is quite fulfilling for them. You obviously get lots of skills, it's fun, you feel special. And that especially applies to people like bullied kids who might not otherwise get that opportunity.

Negative has a set of responses to this. The first thing they tell us is that this is a pretty minimal chance, not that many people get elected, which obviously doesn't neutralise the affirmative point, but does mitigate it. The second claim they have is that a lot of kids don't really want these roles anyway. So this is not a huge benefit for kids who are actually pretty nervous or who don't really want to be a school captain.

And the third thing they tell us is that potentially bullied kids would still be bullied after they'd been elected to this role and the greater prominence doesn't really change very much for them, which wasn't explained necessarily as much as would have been ideal, but did seem like a pretty plausible account of what might happen to these kids. So overall, I think that negative is able to pretty substantially mitigate the extent to which kids get a chance they otherwise wouldn't. Seems like they don't get that much more of a chance and the kids who do get that chance don't necessarily want it as much as the kids who are now missing out.

The second thing, though that affirmative says is potentially the system creates a really good incentive for kids to behave well because they know that their card might be taken out of the hat if they behave poorly. Negative responds to this by saying that this is probably not a super effective incentive because kids who behave poorly often don't want these leadership positions.

And if they did want these leadership positions, they'd already be intent to incentivise to behave well so they could get them. Which again, doesn't totally neutralise the affirmative's point, but does mitigate it a lot. So maybe there's a few kids who find this card withdrawing mechanism to be really persuasive. But it does seem true that the kids who are particularly poorly behaved are probably not persuaded.

The final argument, then that happens under this issue is a point that comes from negative where they tell us that this might actually be bad for students because it provides additional stress or forces them into roles that they might not be suitable for, for example, speaking at assembly. affirmative responds to this by saying, well, that's OK. Those kids can just opt out of the system. So they would never be forced to do assemblies if they didn't want to. And while this is a fair response, it is a response, which reduces the size of affirmative's benefits because it means that those kids who might be nervous, can't access the kind of opportunities or representation that they talk about.

So it does seem like maybe kids wouldn't really be forced into doing assemblies and things if they were scared of it, if they were particularly scared of it, but that also means that those kids' voices would it be heard in the way that affirmative wants them to. So what that meant is that at the end of this issue and the impact on individual students, it seems like affirmative wasn't necessarily substantially increasing the number of kids who would get a chance at these roles, but negative did prove that there would be at least some kids who might not be super comfortable, who might not actually want these roles.

So at the end of the debate, what does the panel believe? Firstly, we didn't think that affirmative particularly increased the number of kids who got to do these roles or who got representation. And we think that negative was ultimately able to prove that the children who are already picked in the status quo to represent their cohorts are probably the best people to do it.

They're the people with lots of friends, they're the people who have democratic accountability to their cohort. And that meant that they were likely better representatives than those that were picked randomly. So for that reason, the panel awarded the debate unanimously to side negative. But we thought it was an excellent round and congratulations to both teams.


LARA RATHJEN: Thank you for that. Please now welcome a representative from Riverina to congratulate the winners.


AMY DOHERTY: Good job, negative. You did a really good job and you really deserve it. And it was a really tough to debate against you. And thank you, adjudicators. And thank you, audience for watching.


LARA RATHJEN: Please welcome a member of the winning team to respond.


MAGGY WARDLE: I just want to say to Riverina, since the first event, you guys have improved so much. I think you guys are such an amazing team. And that was a really, really tricky debate. Thank you, adjudicators. All of your feedback so far has been really helpful and it has really helped us to get to this point. And I thank you for the teachers for helping us.


LARA RATHJEN: Please welcome Amy.


Please welcome Matilda.


Please welcome Liana.


And please welcome Eva.


And then myself, Lara.


TONY DAVEY: Ladies and gentlemen, the state finalists for 2022 representing the Riverina region.


LUCY HENDERSON: Please welcome, Milla.


Please welcome Skylar.


Please welcome Hannah.


And please welcome Maggy.


And myself.


TONY DAVEY: And now from Andy, the championship cup to the winning team for 2022.


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