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Debating the effects of Covid-19

Debating the effects of Covid-19
Philippa Scudds

The John O’Gaunt debating society has always discussed the latest global issues, so it was fitting that the first online debate took the title ‘This House believes that Coronavirus will create a brave new world.’

Sixth Formers Magnus and Aous argued the case against the motion, putting forward their views on the negative aspects of Covid-19, the potential effects on mental health, the rollback of civil liberty and the rebound in emissions and restart of greenhouse gases which ignore the issue of sustainability.

Henry and Alice provided a much more positive view, with the use of videoconferencing reducing the need for travel and therefore a positive effect on the environment, policy changes involving social security to improve the lives of billions and social distancing ending overcrowded transport systems.

Speeches were followed by some searching questions to the two teams, with pupils and staff also putting forward interesting general viewpoints on the potential opportunities and negative impacts.  Will leaders have the integrity and focus to use the situation to make positive change?  After votes of thanks and summary speeches by all four speakers, the online vote was held with Magnus and Aous winning the argument.

Richard Redwood, Head of English, was delighted with the response to this first virtual debate:

“I was extremely impressed by the quality of the debating this evening.   Pupils had clearly researched their argument thoroughly, drawing on a wide range of political, environmental and social aspects of the current pandemic.   They also adapted very successfully to an online debating forum, and articulated their views in a clear and effective way.   Thank you to all those who took part and congratulations to Magnus and Aous on persuading the audience to vote for the opposition.”