PRISONERS’ voting rights was the subject of a Bognor Regis student’s public speaking debut.
Kelsey Pool spoke for three minutes on the motion that no inmate should be able to have their say in elections.
She was the lead speaker in The Regis School’s entry into the first entry held there by the West Sussex Schools Debating Association.
Kelsey, 13, said: “Prisoners have done a crime against society and so they should not have a say in what happens in that society.
“I enjoyed the public speaking. It was a bit scary at first but quite fun once I got into it.
“It’s given me more confidence. You have to try and explain yourself and it was good to win a debate. I’ve also met people I would not normally have met.”
The school was just pipped to the runner-up’s spot in the competition held last week by Angmering School. The winner of the three-way contest was St Andrew’s School from Worthing.
Charlie Greene, from The Regis School, won the Endeavour Award for the best individual. The judges selected him for his articulate nature, the consistency of his arguments and very quick responses. He was presented with his prize by the town mayor, Cllr Paul Wells.
Competition organiser Tom Rusbridge, of the association, said: “I’m extremely pleased with how the event’s gone.
“We had a smaller number of schools taking part than I expected but that has allowed us to see a lot more of the schools who were involved. It’s been really nice to see how their speaking skills have improved during the day.”
Angmering School and St Andrew’s went into the competition with some public speaking experience.
There were three set motions with schools stating the case for and against on the threat to endangered British species being as great as foreign species, the government’s need to take tougher action on unhealthy behaviour, and prisoners’ voting.
Three on-the-spot debates also followed: sports people and role models, CCTV goes too far, and the inadequacy of schools as a preparation for life. Two further debates about global warming and Britain as a secular state determined the final placings.
Each school had about 15 students. They had ten minutes, including a three-minute solo slot, in which to argue their case.
One of the judges, Gavan Harrison, said: “As we have built the debating motions, we’ve really stretched the students.
“They have proven that, at all ages, they have been willing to step up and showcase their intellectual curiosity. It has been a superb showcase of the talents and excellence of students going beyond classroom learning.”