The French Institute of the United Kingdom’s ‘joutes oratoires’ regional finals occurred on Wednesday. To those who do not know, this is a competition open to all Sixth Form French students to offer them the opportunity to hone their debating skills. Each school chose two students to represent them in the regional finals and the winner from each region would go on to the institute in South Kensington in March for the national finals. Challoner’s hosted this year’s edition for the South East region with Rui and Conor chosen to represent our school.

All participating schools were randomly allocated into two groups of four where they would debate against each other on one of the three motions they had prepared for. Each team had to prepare arguments for and against all of the motions. At the end of the debate the judges, other french teachers from other competing schools, would award between 1-5 points to each team. Then the winners of each group would compete against each other to decide which team would progress to the national finals.

First up for the Challoner’s debating team was Merchant Taylors. We were tasked with arguing for the motion that overpopulation was a myth. It was a close contest between very strong opponents and, unfortunately, we were narrowly beaten. Up next was Beaconsfield High School, another strong side. This time, we argued against the motion that work is necessary for a happy life. Once again, the quality of debating was superb and the tie was on a knife’s edge. This time we managed to edge past, giving us a chance to make it through to the final. We would have to score five points against Aylesbury Grammar School to get there. The possibility of winning regionals was almost within our reach, spurring us on to secure all five points and progress into the final.

Whilst anticipating the results from the group stage, I quizzed Mr Elliott on the team we should look out for, with him pointing out Watford Grammar as an incredibly strong contestant with them finishing third in their group. However, it was King’s High School who we played in the final. They had come all the way from Warwick to compete and even brought fans with them to cheer them on.

It was a nerve-racking final. We were arguing for the motion that adverts create artificial needs and at the end of the debate, we were no clearer on which side would emerge victorious.

After an infuriatingly melodramatic pause, Mr Elliott read out the news that Challoner's had won. Weeks of preparation certainly paid off in the end and the experience of battling against some of the most talented French students in the country was truly 'incroyable'.