Chifley College students hone debating skills

No objections: Chifley College Shalvey students Erika Tan, McKennzi Muir, Aurora Phillips-Mills and Courtney Astill get familiar with UWS Parramatta's moot court. Picture: Gene Ramirez

No objections: Chifley College Shalvey students Erika Tan, McKennzi Muir, Aurora Phillips-Mills and Courtney Astill get familiar with UWS Parramatta's moot court. Picture: Gene Ramirez

Chifley College debaters have no argument with the tips they received at a series of workshops at The University of Western Sydney's Parramatta campus.

The year 8 and 9 students from the college's Shalvey campus were among 16 western Sydney schools that took part in the event, organised by the Department of Education and Communities and sponsored by the UWS School of Law.

The department's speaking competitions co-ordinator Lloyd Cameron said student participation had doubled from 60 at the first debating workshops held last year to 120 on Monday.

"There are some schools that have had a long tradition, whereas others don't know much about the art form of debating, so in partnership with UWS we decided to bring in workshop leaders so students get an opportunity to ask them a lot of questions," he said.

Year 9 student Aurora Phillips-Mills, 14, said the last topic her team debated was whether teachers' pay should be determined by how their students achieved. They also took part in the Evatt Debate, a model United Nations student event where participants debate a resolution as a given country.

"I like that you get to meet different people from different schools and get a chance to talk about different topics," Aurora said.

Teammate Erika Tan, 14, said they had brainstormed example debate topics and used the acronym PEEL — point, example, explain and link — to give better structure to their debates.

"Just like building a narrative, you need a who, what, when and why," she said.

Mr Cameron said debating skills were a valuable tool in job interviews and when confronting a broad range of topics.

"You want to be able to think about the complexity of an issue and debating forces you to because you get a topic and might think 'that topic interests me', but which side is just the toss of a coin," he said.

The Premier's Debating Challenge is on campus on August 1 and 22 at UWS Parramatta.

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