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School debates: Jeffrey’s story

Jeffrey Hovenden Keane from Newbridge College took part in Concern Worldwide’s school debates this year. He wrote this blog post about his experience.

My involvement with the Concern debates this year started back in October when the debating teams in our school started auditions. I was nervous going into my audition. Our two debating coaches, Ms. Murphy and Ms. Kelly held stone-cold poker faces throughout my speech, which was on the deforestation crisis in the rainforest.

Researching the motion

The next few days felt like weeks waiting to find out if I had made the team, but even when I saw my name on that team list the relief was short-lived. Our motion, “The world has more to fear from Mitt Romney than Obama” was followed by two weeks of manic research.

Our first debate

The first debate was nerve-wracking for me, and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t feel under pressure as I approached the podium, with a high standard already set by my fellow team mates. Those four and a half minutes last about thirty seconds when you’re up there and before I knew it I was listening to the chairperson announce the winner. We won and I don’t think even Gordon Ramsey could have knocked the smile off my face for the next two days.


On our debates team, we always try and take it one debate at a time and never get ahead of ourselves too much and now here we are: five wins, the final eight, and it all seems a bit surreal. I’m working with a fantastic team with an amazingly dedicated set of coaches and I’m really enjoying furthering my understanding of world issues. The Concern debating really broadens your perspective and I can’t emphasise enough how important that is to me.

Building confidence

I have enjoyed all this year’s topics, but if I were to choose one to discuss I’d pick the subject of wealth inequality in the third world and our responsibility to help those affected. All in all, this experience has given me new insights and educated me in a way no other class can, and that kind of confidence-building is priceless.

Newbridge College, Jeffrey’s team, won their Quarter Final debate on Tuesday night and will be taking part in the semi finals on Thursday 18th April.