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Balloon Debate Impresses Judges to End School Year


Picture the scene: a hot air balloon is floating gently in the tropical air above the Gulf of Thailand. It is filled with five important people from all over the world. The characters in the balloon are people who have done amazing things in their lives - all are noteworthy for their accomplishments. 

Suddenly, a seagull lands on the balloon and pecks a hole in the top of it. The balloon begins to leak air and drop slowly but inevitably towards the sea. The people aboard quickly realise the only way they stand any chance of saving themselves is to make the balloon light enough to float back to the mainland. To do this, everybody except one person must jump out into the sea. The remaining occupant will pilot the balloon back to safety and send out a lifeboat to rescue everyone else.

They decide the fairest way to determine who gets to stay in the balloon to debate. Each person will have three minutes to say why they deserve to remain in the balloon, speaking about what they have achieved in their lives and why they are more deserving than the others. The person with the most convincing argument will stay in the balloon, and everyone else will have to jump out.

Welcome to the Shrewsbury Year 5 Balloon Debate! 

This cross house challenge sees students from Shrewsbury's houses engage in debate and critical argument. The Year 5 Balloon Debate is a fantastic opportunity for students to practice their public speaking skills, gain confidence on stage and in front of the camera, and develop critical persuasive devices of debate. 

Participants were asked to choose a character they felt passionate about, and judges looked for how well speakers introduced themselves and described the importance of what they had achieved. Judges also noted persuasive devices used, such as hyperbole and rhetorical questions and how well speakers referred to other debaters in their speeches. In addition, points were awarded for how well students could conclude and sum up their argument. 

From King House, we saw Ananya take on the role of Ruth Bader Ginsburg; Mandela House was represented by Kin, who personified Elon Musk; Shou from Schweitzer was Thomas Edison; Rory from Teressa House argued the point for Alexander Flemming and Tam represented Williams House with Catherine Johnson. 

Speakers were also assessed on how audible and clear their speeches were, how well they could remember critical points and the use of expressive body language to convey emphasis. 

The Balloon Debate is a stepping stone to positions of responsibility at Shrewsbury, including the Year 6 Fairbairn Award and positions of leadership, including future Head Boy and Head Girl roles. 

After careful consideration, judges selected Ananya from King House as the winner. Ananya successfully argued the case for Ruth Bader Ginsburg and talked passionately of female empowerment and overcoming barriers to become Supreme Court Justice.  Ananya's emphasis on her persistence and fighting spirit impressed. She also spoke with eloquence, clarity and expressiveness. 

Not only does Ananya receive a personal trophy, but King now becomes a worthy house winner of the Balloon Debate trophy 2021.

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