16 May 2012

Flight School Debate

Pupils from two Birmingham schools proved they were top of the class on Friday 11th May, when they took part in a keenly contested debate at Birmingham Airport.

The Year 9 pupils from Small Heath School and King Edward’s School joined forces to debate two of the most contentious transport issues in the UK today, the High Speed Rail network (HS2) and ‘Boris Island’.

In a tightly fought contest, pupils from both schools argued for and against these divisive issues in front of an invited audience, including Birmingham MP’s Gisella Stuart and Shabana Mahmood.

Chaired by a fellow student, the audience was invited to vote on what they had heard after each debate, transforming the airport’s Flight School into a scene from the House of Commons.

The aim of the session was to equip students with some of the key skills they will need in their professional life, including public speaking, working as a team and appreciating another person’s point of view.

This extracurricular activity has also allowed the two schools to forge a closer relationship, giving pupils from both sides the chance to learn from one another. It is hoped these positive cultural experiences will benefit the students far beyond the classroom and into their personal life too.

Shabana Mahmood, MP for Birmingham Ladywood, said: “As a former Small Heath pupil, I was proud to see how the school is developing and the new friendships the pupils have with King Edward’s allow students from both schools to share experiences with peers they may not have otherwise met, which was fantastic to see.”   

Shahira Ghani, History teacher and Gifted and Talented Co-ordinator at Small Heath School, said: “Throughout the past two months, pupils from both schools have worked tirelessly to make this occasion extremely successful. Not only have they learnt how to work as a team, but they have also developed key skills that will benefit them in their working life.

“The children have researched each topic in great detail, examining the environmental, political, financial and social impacts. It is important younger members of our community discuss issues such as HS2 and ‘Boris Island’ as the outcome of these projects will affect their future more than anyone else”.

Andy Holding, Community Affairs Manager at Birmingham Airport, concluded: “The outcome of the HS2 project and the ‘Boris Island’ question will have a huge impact on Birmingham airport, so it seemed only fitting the students chose our new Flight School to stage the debate. We were thoroughly impressed with their arguments and the way they conducted themselves throughout the afternoon.”

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