Pupils take part in Great Debate heat at LJMU

LJMU were proud to host a heat of the Historical Association’s Great Debate 2024 public speaking competition, welcoming four schools on to campus for an evening of empowering speeches.

A collaboration between the association and academic staff from LJMU’s History and Education programmes brought the event to the university, with Professor Nick White acting as a judge alongside Honorary Fellow Janet Dugdale who is the Executive Director of Museums and Participation for National Museums Liverpool.

LJMU’s Vice-Chancellor Professor Mark Power and Dr Alex Miles, Director of the School of Humanities and Social Science, also attended the event, with the Vice-Chancellor offering a few words of advice: “Take your time, relax and enjoy the occasion.”

Participating pupils had to prepare an argument to the question Which historical place or person from your local area deserves greater recognition? as part of the local heat.

Barrister Rose Heilbron, who achieved many ‘firsts’ for women in law, and experimental chemist Joseph Priestly, who discovered oxygen, were among the people featured in the compelling speeches. Meanwhile Derby House, the Western Approaches Command Centre during WWII, and the Cameo Cinema, the site of an unsolved double murder, were two of the local places also chosen by the pupils.

The students deemed top of the class from the evening will progress on to the next round in 2024.

Event ‘Ring Master’ and Subject Leader for History at LJMU, Dr David Clampin, said: “Across the university we undertake a variety of initiatives whereby we deliver sessions in schools, or invite pupils onto campus for events. Speaking around this with colleagues in our School of Education, I was made aware of the work of the Historical Association in this area and started speaking to them around our practices and experiences.

“That relationship has developed over time, we’ve contributed to many of their initiatives, and I was appointed a Trustee in 2022, so it seemed like a natural next step of that relationship for LJMU to host a heat in the Great Debate competition.

“The Great Debate is an ideal opportunity for students to gain valuable experience in speaking to an audience and developing their debating skills, confidence and self-esteem. They are given a topic in which they can focus on and research. Just the preparation challenges pupils to refine their skills as historians and undertake bona fide research.

“For some of the participants, it’s a rare opportunity to visit a university campus and I do hope that many will go on to study history at degree level, and this is great way for them to get a sense of what a university is like.”


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