For the second time in four years, KES’s top debating pairing reached the All-England Final of the premier national schools’ competition, for the ESU Silver Mace.
Patrick Wernham and Tom Barrett in Divisions had battled through rounds from Five Ways back to Solihull, to the red sandstone glories of Hereford Cathedral Close and on, as West of England Regional Champions, to the classical grandeur of the English-Speaking Union’s Mayfair HQ just off Berkeley Square at Dartmouth House. They had prepared massively and debated very good opposition on the advantages and disadvantages for donor and receiving countries of skilled-professional immigration.
Parental supporters cheered, as did Mrs Atay, and Patrick and Tom were inevitably hugely impressive. They, alas, did not claim the England title to emulate their 1999 forebears. That went very deservedly to the all-conquering school of the season, Dulwich. On this occasion, unlike three years ago when most, including the headmaster of a competing school, agreed that KES (who lost then on a 3-2 judging split) should unquestionably have got the decision and the title over the chosen winners, we had absolutely no complaints. For Patrick and Tom, it was a triumph anyway, and means an automatic trial in October for the England Schools’ Debating Team to go to the 2015 World Championships, probably in Singapore.