Video transcript
NSW Premier's Debating Challenge 2023 – Years 7 and 8 State Final

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[intro music]

JUSTINE CLARKE: Good morning, everyone, and welcome to the Premier's Debating Challenge for Year 7 and 8 State Final. It's been a great 3-day camp, and you should be really proud of all of the kids who've been here for the last 3 days. My name is Justine Clarke and I'm the speaking competitions officer for the Department of Education's Arts Unit. I'd like to acknowledge the Gadigal people, who are the traditional custodians of the land on which we meet today and extend my respect to any Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples here today.

I'd also like to welcome a couple of special guests, Jordi Austin, who is the director of Arts, Sport and Initiatives, who has come to watch the debate today. Thank you, Jordi. And the former speaking competitions officer, Lloyd Cameron, who our Lloyd Cameron Cup is named after, who has come to present the cup named after him, the longest-serving speaking competitions officer so far. That didn't mean anything. All right, so thank you so much, both of you, for being here.

Welcome, parents, teachers of the state finalists and thank you to all of the teams who've been enthusiastic and helpful and polite to all the adults and have been super friendly with each other. We've seen lots of great friendships happen this last 3 days, which has been excellent. And we hope that you've all learned a lot and you continue to debate and enjoy that debating and we'll see you next year.

I just also quickly want to say a big thank you to our adjudication team, most of whom have been here all week. In fact, I think pretty much all of them have been here all week-- so Tony, Indigo, Jeremiah, Desmond earlier in the week, Neva and Ally, who I know you appreciate have been giving you lots of patient and helpful advice. And they've been adjudicating pretty much from 9 o'clock in the morning till 9 o'clock at night. So thank you so much. It's really great to have such a great team.


All right, finally, good luck to both teams. I was privileged to see a debate between these 2 teams a couple of days ago and it was excellent. So I'm sure it will be great again. I'm now going to hand over to our chairperson, Darren, and timekeeper, Ben, from Epping Boys High School, who are going to look after us for the rest of the semi-final. Thank you.


DARREN ANAK AGUNG: Welcome to the state final of the Premier's Debating Challenge for Years 7 and Year 8. My name is Darren from Epping Boys High School, and the timekeeper today is Ben from Epping Boys High School. Before we begin, I want to acknowledge that we are meeting on the traditional lands of the Gadigal people of the Eora Nation. And on behalf of the Department of Education, I want to show my respect to the Elders past and present of the nation and of all First Nation peoples.

The affirmative team today is Narara Valley High School. Their first speaker is Bella; second speaker, Cordelia, third speaker, Scout; and fourth speaker, Jasmine. The negative team is from Byron Bay High School. Their first speaker is Liberty; second speaker, Silke; third speaker, Hannah; and fourth speaker, Halle. The adjudicators for this debate are Jeremiah, Neva and Ally.

The speaking time for this debate is 6 minutes. There will be a warning bell at 4 minutes, 2 bells at 6 minutes and a continuous bell at 7 minutes. The topic for this debate is that students who receive unsatisfactory reports should have to do extra classes over the holiday. Finally, please take a moment to make sure that all mobile phones are switched off. Now please welcome the first affirmative speaker to open the debate.


ISABELLA ERDOS: Good morning, fellow students and adjudicator. As first speaker, I'll be explaining the definition of this topic and our model, and my arguments will include that this will bring up the overall average grade and that it is better for students that are slow at learning. My second speaker's arguments include that it is better for mental health, that it will stimulate the brain and how our model will affect future generations. We define this topic.

Now I am moving on to the definition of this topic. We define unsatisfactory grades as below C and C. We define extra classes as online classes and not in person at school. In the holidays, these will be only classes on weekdays and we define students as students in Years 7 to 10, not private schools.

Moving on to our model, in our model, these classes will be online only in NSW, and they will be selected classes per region. The reason that we're going to be doing online classes is that it is much easier for students in rural areas and just having each class per region. Our model will be government funded, and the classes included will be math, English, science and history.

Students will only have to take the selected classes that they got C and below on. For example, if a kid gets straight As in all other subjects but gets a D or an F in math, they'll take math, not all of the other subjects as well. If they get Bs and everything above a C but they get 2 Ds in math and science, they'll do both math and science, if that makes sense.

These classes-- in these classes, there will be-- this will include one face-to-face lesson online via Zoom per region, much how Aurora College classes work online as well as how it worked in COVID. After the Zoom classes, students will take 4 courses much like NAPLAN in their own time during the holidays. At the end of the holidays, a test will be given to the students for the selected subject to see their improvement.

Moving on to my substantive, right now, we see that the education is declining particularly in aspects of vocabulary. The average grades are also generally Cs, with a small amount of students receiving As and Bs. When our model becomes in place, the average grade will be much higher and include much more Bs and As. The reason being is because, in our model, students who receive grades of C or below will be taking these classes and improving them, overall boosting the average grade in NSW. This is important because it benefits a variety of different things in people, including a major stakeholder in this debate being students.

Students' mental health will be boosted as many students validate self-worth. When a student receives a report or grade, they will generally believe-- when a student receives a bad grade, they will generally believe that they did not do good enough and that they did not do well. This will also-- our model will also overall help students and the future generations, boosting the average IQ level. It is important for students to know and feel like they have self-worth and that they achieve brilliant things as our future generation and the current, we see that education--


--is declining and that there needs to be a change.

Our model will also affect parents as they will feel like their kids are doing well and they are receiving good grades. After the change-- this is important because parents should feel proud of their children and knowing that their children aren't struggling or doing bad in school. Our model will affect the reputation of education in schools, as well, as the average grade will be much higher, and it will show a better level of intelligence in schools. That is why it is important our model becomes in place as we will see a huge uprise in average grades as well as the average reports. With our model, students will have better futures and careers that my second speaker will go more in depth.

Moving on to my second argument, right now, we see that many students are falling behind in classes. Though there are students that do complete the average set work, many students do fall behind. Students are also generally slow-- students that are also generally slow, learning and comprehending things all at once when given a lot of work. When our model becomes in place, it will overall help students, parents, and schools and teachers.

Firstly, students who are slow in learning will not feel self-conscious about struggling in school as our model will provide courses that can be done in the student's own time for however long they want. Students will no longer feel pressured to complete a set amount of work in the set amount of time given.

They will work on these courses over time and gradually work towards working faster. Our model provides help to these students without them feeling pressured or forced and will overall help the mental health of these students. It is important to help these students because they are struggling in the current status quo. Our model will then--


--help receive better grades in the future. If the status quo does not change, all of the students receiving worse grades will keep declining and declining.

Our model will also benefit parents as their children will no longer-- as they will not feel stress about their children struggling in school. This is important because parents care for their children and they are their own people themselves. They should be able to feel pressure lifted off them when their children and teenagers are receiving good grades in school.

Schools and teachers will also be affected by in a positive way in our model. Students will come back being more engaged in learning as studies show that the more they understand the content that they are learning, the more engaged they are in classes. After our model becomes in place, we will see a large impact on various stakeholders and will overall have a positive impact on our future. This is incredibly important because right, now education and engagement in learning is declining--


--and declining. There needs to be change. That is why--


LIBERTY MACKENZIE: The other team stated that these classes will be online. However, we think that this is not beneficial for students and it is erroneous because it is so easy to cheat online. And without teacher supervision, it will be even easier. Think about how many students cheat in class when they are given laptops, and now think about how they're going to cheat at home when they don't have teachers watching over their shoulder.

The other team also stated that this will boost the average grades. However, we think this is counterfactual because students don't really learn without a growth mindset. And if they're not wanting to do these classes, they're not going to reach their full capable learning. And we don't think that they'll learn or pick up very many skills.

And the other team also said that teams' grades will improve because it is extra learning. However, we think this is ludicrous, because, firstly, if the schools can't teach kids this in school, why should they waste their time teaching it in the holidays? Obviously this teaching method isn't working for these students. We should be experimenting with new methods and new content to try to engage them.

The other team also stated that it will help children's mental health. However, this is wrong because, number one, holidays are supposed to be for students' social battery to reset and recharge, not for them to be doing extra schoolwork. And secondly, not many children are going to want to do extra schoolwork if we're being totally realistic. Many students feel exhausted after the terms are done. They're not going to be wanting to do extra schoolwork in the holidays, which, again, means they won't have a growth mindset to this learning.

They also stated that students will become more engaged. However, we think this is incorrect because it has been proven time and time again by studies that repeating the same work doesn't actually make you learn necessarily more. I will kick off our case by talking about how students cannot learn with a closed mindset. Then I will talk about how academic results do not define a student's success. I will then talk about how they should have freedom of choice to choose whether they should be spending their holidays doing this extra schoolwork.

My second speaker will talk about how this will cost an extraordinarily high amount of money and take a lot of teachers' extra time out of their holidays. Then she will talk about how we should be experimenting with individual learning plans, not keep teaching the same content over and over again.

My team's first argument will show how children don't learn when they have a closed mindset. Right now, the school system isn't perfect. Obviously, many kids don't look forward to going to school and don't understand the importance of education. If we don't make a change soon, Australia's test results will rapidly decline.

However, the other team's model is completely erroneous and will simply make children more angry and frustrated. This will negatively impact their personal lives and their grades. Obviously, students that fail aren't really engaging in the lessons, and that's a serious issue. Obviously, if they aren't engaging in a lesson, their grades will drop, which, in the other team's world, means they will be forced to attend even more pointless classes that they aren't fully engaged in.

After this change, kids' holidays, which is their time to reset, will be wasted. If we really want to improve these children's grades, we should be changing the teaching methods and the content that they are intaking. For example, the other team is suggesting that we put-- putting a whole lot of misbehaving children-- because lots of kids who are struggling are the ones who are misbehaving in class-- in a chat room together over the holidays. Surely we can see how this would be catastrophic.

There are way more reliable and efficient ways for children to improve their grades. This could look like personal one-on-one tutoring. Overall, this change will not benefit students. Because to learn, you need to be focused and ready and have an open mindset. And these students will not have this. And that's why this change has very little to no benefits.

My next argument will show how we shouldn't be measuring a child's worth on their academic success and punishing them for getting bad grades. Right now--


--we can recognise that the next Sam Kerr does not need to top her English class to pursue a career in sport. The next JK Rowling does not need to know Pythagoras' theorem to be an incredible writer. And the next Einstein doesn't need to be able to recite every Egyptian god to figure out that E equals mc squared.

What we are trying to prove is that every student doesn't need to do well in every subject to be successful in later life. While acing exams is great, so is playing piano and singing and acting. After the change, we will be degrading these children's worth and trying to remodel their future, when in reality, that's not the best idea.

For example, could you imagine if someone told Taylor Swift, the number one global artist on Spotify and Woman of the Decade and recently named 'Time Magazine's' Person of the Year, to stay back and practise algebra when she could have been writing music and signing record deals? Each and every child has a weakness academically, but they also have strengths. Our team believes we should be focusing on these strengths, not their weaknesses, to create confident, talented and happy human. Thank you.


My team's third argument will show how-- my third argument will show how teenagers should be the ones making their choice about their future, not their teachers. Right now, we are living in a world where teens get a choice in their future. They may not get the best marks in every subject, but in the ones they care about, the ones that will help them achieve their dreams in the future, they do.

In this world, teenagers want to have fun in school, to be in good classes, and they want to be great at only one or 2 subjects that they care about. For example, the small percentage of kids who want to do well across the board, they are given the area to extend themselves to it. After the change, teenagers are going to be pressured to go to school in their holidays, which are given to the teens to recharge and refresh so that they can have--


--a great start to a new term. In this world that the affirmative is proposing, the teens who need this battery recharge the most will be missing out on it, all because we have taken away their choice in the belief that they should do everything. This is important.

We accept that there are some little things in life that kids shouldn't have the choice in, like whether they brush their teeth, go to the doctor when they're sick. But we believe that this change is such a big choice that it should not be given to the teachers who don't know what the kids want in life. For example, teens need to be able to decide on their future to feel like they are worth something. An artsy student who just wants to paint for a living needs to focus on enhancing their skill, not on how to program a video game. These reasons prove why we must not implement this change. Thank you.


CORDELIA GARBYAL: Before I start my speech, I would like to point out some flaws and start with my rebuttals. So first, the opposing team stated that students aren't engaged in these lessons. And as we stated before, our model will help these students. And we that the majority of these students that aren't engaged in the lessons are because they don't understand these topics. We believe that introducing our model will help them understand these topics more, therefore making them interested, allowing them to understand and bettering their knowledge, engaging in more lessons and improving their overall grades.

The opposition also stated that students do not need all of the subjects, but we actually believe that this isn't true as it is a part of a mandatory curriculum for a reason. Students need to learn English. They need to learn how to write. They need to learn math, science, history. They need to know all of that in order to survive. They need to understand that all of the subjects in the curriculum are being taught for a reason. And not all people are going to become famous people such as Taylor Swift, Albert Einstein. There are people that need these jobs in life that use these subjects that we are trying to teach in school.

Moving on to my next argument, they stated that it would be better if we just had one-on-one tutoring. But we said that in the status quo that this isn't working, and this is why we are trying to implement our new model. They are also contradicting themselves since they said that they don't want to spend spare time on schoolwork. But suggesting one-on-one tutoring is actually outside of school and defeats the whole purpose as it actually takes out more money from the parents if they're not able to afford it, et cetera, et cetera. This is why our model is so much better to implement than having these one-on-one tutoring sessions than having parents to have to allocate their spare time to try and help these students or just to leave their grades lacking.

The opposition also brought up the fact that it's easy to cheat online. And right now, we have students that genuinely want to improve and do better in these subjects. And we see that only a select few will cheat, which we believe that the people that actually do want to get better is the reason that we have this model and is why we are trying to put this model in place. The students that are going to cheat and don't really care about this change is only going to be a few and that is on them. That's their problem. We are putting this model in place for the children that actually want to get better.

For example, there was COVID online classes, and these classes had supervision. The children know how these online classes work, and we can make these websites or we can have these already-made websites that is harder to cheat and actually uses-- and makes them use their brain and think of other things.

The opposition also stated that these academic achievements do not define students' self-worth. And we agree with that. We aren't saying that it defines their self-worth, but we see that majority of students actually put their self-worth on these academic achievements. And in order to make them feel better about themselves, in order for them to improve in their overall education, which will benefit their future, is why is why we are putting our model into place.

They also stated that having chat rooms over the holidays with these students that aren't engaging, the troublemakers, the kids that are disrupting the class, is going to be bad. But we actually said that these are going to be online courses that you do individually, so you can do it at your own time. It doesn't get in the way of any other extracurricular things and it is done on your own accord.

And, also, we believe that this is a mischaracterisation on teachers, as well, because teachers can take control of their classes. And if not, punishments will be put in place. Teachers have gone through courses that show that they can take control of a class, that they can punish students if they need to. And this will still be the same in our model.


Our online-- they also stated that the holidays are allocated for free time, and we see that. So that's why our model is going to be put in their own time and it can be done in their own accord, as said before. And they also stated that it's a negative impact on mental health, but I will be showing that it's actually not. It's actually improving mental health and it will be explained more in my substantial.

Moving on to my speech-- so my first argument will be about the future generation; my second argument, mental health; third argument, stimulating the brain more; and fourth argument, people with disabilities. So right now, we see a significant decrease in education all over Australia. This impacts our future generations as these children are the one that are taking over the jobs such as doctors, engineers and IT companies. This affects not only the future generations but way more generations to come.

Due to the lack of education, this causes a shortage in the amount of workers we need in order to keep society running. For example, due to the lacking quality of grades, we see that less and less people will be able to qualify for such jobs. If our model were to be implemented, our children's average grades will skyrocket, which not only improves their ability to qualify for jobs but will also allow them to get into universities that use similar courses that we are trying to implement in our model. This allows them to interact with other intellectually-stimulating people and having more job opportunities in the future.

On the other hand, if we were to keep the status quo, we find that the quality of education in their grades will lack. This, as stated before, will affect current and future generations as the quality of education that people in specific fields have will decline. Not only that, but students who continue to fall behind in their subjects-- it affects students that are continuously falling behind in their subjects. Although, all, if not most, of this will be counteracted if our model were to be implemented.

This model addresses these problems at the root instead of having to reverse the lack of education later on in life, where it has already affected their world and our society. We believe that, regardless of some of these minimal negatives that may occur, that our model's benefits outweigh all minor issues--


--and this is because education will improve and is beneficial for the future.

Moving on to my next argument-- so right now, self-esteem and mental health is at an all-time low. And we see that this is because students are putting their self-worth routed through academic achievements. And by allowing them to take extra classes to improve their grades ultimately improves their feeling of satisfaction when their grades are improving. And as we see in today's world, mental health is such a big issue and we should prioritise this by allowing them to go back and improve.

This model improves students' mental health and grades, which we as the affirmative see is a big issue in today's society, as stated before. For example, if a student is given back an unsatisfactory result, these classes allow them to improve and learn where they went wrong and thus taking away lots of pressures that we see in end-of-year exams and assessments.

Moving on to my last argument, right now, we see in holidays that children's brains aren't stimulated as much, therefore losing a lot of valuable classwork being taught.


And that is why I'm proud to affirm. Thank you.


SILKE MCCARTNEY: In my speech, I'll be pointing out a few obvious flaws in the opposition's argument. I will be then talking about my team's fourth and fifth argument about the individual learning plans and the effect that this change will have on teacher shortages and economic problems.

The opposing team say that tutoring would also be in students' own time and cost money. While this is somewhat true-- although tutoring can be at school and lots of schools offer support if students' families cannot afford this.

The other team state that, after the change, kids would have more confidence in themselves to do well. While kids need to have self-confidence, we believe that this change would not be the right way to give kids self-confidence. There are many other ways to help children's self-esteem, such as trying new things. We believe that majority of kids have self-confidence, so this change would not improve anything in that sense.

The affirmative team said that all students need to learn important subjects. Our team completely agrees with this. But what they do not need is to top every class. Everybody has flaws and we should not be singling out students just because they are not at the top of their class.

The opposition team stated that if these classes are online, you could be doing them in your own time. We have one reason why this is ludicrous. How will they be able to ask for help? And how will they have motivation? Students are likely to just procrastinate and would need to be managed by a teacher. And they are taking these classes to get help. Why would we be making students work by themselves when the whole point of this debate is to help these children out?

The opposition stated that parents would be proud of their children if the change was in effect. This is baffling. Because a lot of the time, when students have low grade, it's because they're trying to impress their parents. Pressure is often put on by parents and this can-- a lot of the time, this can affect students' grades.

Going to a holiday school will also make children feel embarrassed, and kids can get in trouble from their parents for failing the class. For example, over 60% of students have admitted to feeling pressure and stress from schoolwork. If children are put in a class for failing just one subject, they will feel even more pressure to top this class.

My team's fourth argument is about the negative effects that this change will have on the economy and teachers. Currently, majority of schools are already heavily struggling with teacher shortages already. The main contributors to these shortages is the issue of underpaid teachers, no actual teacher, no teachers' aides and no support for NSW educators.

After the change is implemented, this problem will only increase if we would-- money and funding will also start to degrade due to the need of financial support for more teachers. When working in holidays, teachers need overtime payment and/or a holiday work bonus. Where is this money going to be coming from? If the NSW education department is already struggling to pay teachers and teachers' aides now, this change will in no way benefit them.


It will only cause harm. This is important that the change is never made. And in the end, it will take a huge toll on the economy. We are making taxpayers pay for a change that nobody asked for or wanted. Taxpayers will not be behind this change, and this could also cause anger towards both teachers and the government.

For instance, there has been teacher strikes all across Australia. Teachers are at their last straw. Since the budget is already stressed, making the change would be detrimental to teachers and NSW's economy.

My team's fifth argument will show that students are failing subjects because of how they are taught,. And this change will not improve people's marks because there is clearly a problem with how teachers are teaching currently. In the world right now, there is a clear problem with the teaching system not catering for every type of student, which leads to a variety of different marks. This change would not be effective because each and every student would need to have a personalised learning plan, which, as I have already stated, puts an excessive amount of pressure on not only the teachers but the schools.

If students do not have a personalised learning plan, this change will not teach kids what they need to learn. Instead, they will learn things that are not suited to that specific student. Why is this important? Because we care about each and every student, whether they are struggling or not. There will be no time or energy to create individual learning plans, which will be vital for the improvement of teaching students life skills in order to pursue.

How could the affirmative team possibly think that this would be beneficial? This change would only help a very small group of students.


And this is not enough to change a system over. We believe that this change will not be an improvement on the teaching system, instead create many harms and that is why we are proud to negate. Thank you.


SCOUT DE KALB: I will be integrating both my rebuttal and my summarisation throughout my speech. My first speaker talked about the overall debate, and the opposition has responded about how it's not beneficial because the students don't get a choice in improving their grade, but they do. And they have the whole self-discipline to improve their grades and it's them putting forth the effort to improve themselves.

And they also mischaracterised students as those that are receiving the bad grades are those that are the misbehaving ones and that will not do the work. Well, we find that our students aren't just the misbehaving ones. There's also students out there that struggle to just grasp the content, which can change their entire grade. And having this extra work is beneficial for them just for the fact that they can gain this knowledge, which is beneficial for them. And they won't cause ruckus in chat rooms and stuff because it's a one-on-one course, as my second speaker has already said.

They've also talked about how it's not an effective process to teach kids and that we should use one-on-one tutoring. Except we find that is invalid because this is a similar sort of thing where they are one-on-one with the online already programmed course and themselves. There's no other distractions. And to do these sorts of things takes time, expenses, and if-- we usually do them in school time, and that's making them feel outcast from the rest of them, while this is a more quiet way to improve their grades. And it also takes time out of their personal education.

And they also said that this is helping them top the class. We are not putting this in place to top the class. It's to improve their knowledge and understanding and improve their grades, not top the class.

And then our second argument was on how it's beneficial for people that struggle with learning and are slow. And they said there's still other ways of learning and it's not an effective way to reiterate the same stuff. But I'd just like to reinforce that they are the same teachers teaching them in class. It's the same program. And different teachers have different teaching styles, and different teaching styles can be beneficial for some students more than others, which is how this change can be important. And there's different methods and explanations which can help understand. It's not exactly the same as they'd be taught in class.

And they also talked about how, again, it's tutoring, which is expensive on parents. And so that's why our model wouldn't work, but it's expensive to parents. There's more negatives to it, such as taking time out of their day in class. It's travel and all those various different things, which is why it's wrong.

The first speaker of the negative team talked about closed-mindedness and how students need extrinsic motivation and teachers looking over their shoulders to stop them from playing games and doing alternative stuff. But this, we say, is a life skill of self-discipline which they will need for the rest of their life. Because when you are in a job, you don't have your boss standing over your shoulder, going, hurry up, do the work. We have yourself having to hold yourself to your own things and this is why it's beneficial to learn this from an early point.

And then the second point was on success, that they won't necessarily need these subjects for the career path that they are looking for and that it's more important to focus on their strengths. But we are putting this in place to improve weakness. Because these subjects-- English and math, history, science-- they're all the basis of society, and they need to understand these to a consistent level to function effectively in society. And math and English are a mandatory subject in all of schools in NSW, from 7 to 12 and you can just take various different levels of them.

And choice-- on this how we're taking away the freedom of choice and how that means they don't want to do it-- again, with the time management thing where they can improve--


--these sorts of things. And it also improves responsibility because they are choosing to do this. And it improves them to look after themselves and doing things.

And they also talked about how this takes up a lot of time during their holidays, which removes the choice of them taking the downtime during the holidays. But we find that is a negative, not something that we are covering in our model, because it only takes a small amount of time during the holidays. And that doesn't stop them from being able to do other things in their holidays, and they're still able to have the downtime. We are not implementing a full school day every weekday of the holidays. It's more like a short course where they can effectively manage their time, again, working on their time management skills, throughout the day so they can balance passions, hobbies and other practical things, such as sleep and physical activity.

My second speaker talked about our third argument on how this is important for the future generations and that how putting this makes parents feel negative towards their children. But we don't see how this is a valid thing. Parents stand to look after their children. That is a common thing we find is that they look out for their children and they will defend their children and they want to help their children. So we're not saying how the correlation between our model and what they have said about this argument works.

And then our fourth argument was about mental health. The negative team said it would be a negative thing towards mental health. Except we say that it's designed to improve the mental health in factors of stress and not being able to understand the concepts they have done in class, which leads to bad self-esteem, while it's a positive thing to work on these things as we help reduce stress because of not being able to understand things, especially as people get to exam times and we realise how much we haven't actually grasped--


--during the school year and how we are going to fail the exam. That's a common thought pattern for many students in this current generation, which why it's important to remove this problem and help society become a better place.

And the negative team talked about supervision and how they, again-- which leads back to the time management skills and how this is important life skill. They also talked about expenses. But we're not sure, because this comes from the government-funded money, and they have money to spend. We are not needing to find charities. We're not needing a volunteer-based service. It comes from the government.

And how it might be a waste of time for these students because they may not gain anything-- but they will gain stuff. As I said earlier, there's different teaching styles, which makes them understand this better. And how lack of attention in class-- we've said this improves. If you understand what you're learning--


--it improves the way you think about that subject. Thank you.


HANNAH CLARK: I'm going to talk about, first of all, I'm going to go through in my speech. I'll first point out the main points I saw in this case and do some rebuttal about them. And the points I saw is, is this beneficial for students' grades? And does this change help children learn better? Then I'll do some rebuttal and restate what each team had to prove.

Under the first main point of, is this change beneficial for students' grades? we hear from the affirmative team that this change will improve teenagers' grades. Our response to this is that, if the schools can't teach kids these things in school, why should they waste time in their holidays when they should be resting their social battery and resting? We don't understand fully how doing the repeat work that they've been taught in school is going to improve kids' grades.

The other thing we hear from them is that parents don't put pressure on their kids. Well, we know this is erroneous because the parents can unconsciously put pressure on kids. They can say, good luck with your exam today and hope you get 100%. And then the kid automatically feels like they have to do really well on this exam. Otherwise, they're disappointing their parents.

The affirmative team also states that all subjects in the curriculum are taught for a reason. Even if this is true, many are taught as an introduction to the subject so that kids know what subjects are going on in these schools and what subjects they can do and they're not all necessary. And think about it. Kids can choose electives in Year 9 and choose which subjects they don't do. And so they're waiting, in Year 7 and 8, knowing that this is just a waste of time that they're not going to choose it.

Finally, we hear that tutoring is expensive for parents. We know that this is incorrect because there are free and cheap online tutoring things. And if they can't afford or don't want to use the free versions, there are lots of online websites that offer tips and advice for how to improve.

The second main point we hear is, how does this change help children learn better in school? Under the second main point, we hear from the affirmative that this change would stimulate their brains. This is a web of misleading information, because when kids spend time on things that don't interest them, their brain doesn't suddenly stimulate and go, I really like this. If they're not interested in it, they're not going to be wanting to do it and their brain is going to switch off. Children need fun and interesting lessons to learn, and doing a Zoom one-on-one with a teacher could be very daunting and generally not interesting.

Then we hear that this change helps students who learn slowly. We know that this is counterfactual because children who learn slowly need special help, not just a teacher in the holidays telling them how to do something. That would be so much pressure. And if they don't understand it in class and the teacher is just trying to reteach it to them, that's not the right thing to do. We need someone to help understand the part they struggle with, go back to basics, and then teach them again. Also, a few lessons in the holidays isn't necessarily going to help if there's a whole big section of the maths or English that they've missed, because to fail and be able to do this, you're going to have to not do very well at all.

They also said that the students who are in this class are going to learn. That's what the model is for. Well, this is baffling because you say you're forcing anyone who doesn't pass to do this. And obviously, kids who want to learn will get a good mark because they'll put the effort in. And we know that if they need help, they'll be quick to ask for it. It won't be the kids who really want to do well.

They also came out with a statement that, when you're in a job, you're not going to have an adult telling you what to do and that-- we know this is true, but it's affirmed in the model, these changes directed to Year 7 to 10 heavily rely on adults to help control their grades. They aren't mature. They live with adults. They rely on adults to keep them in line.

Finally, we hear that students'--


--mental health will improve. We prove this isn't valid by saying that holiday time is time to reset and improve your mental health. So technically, their mental health would decrease. Also, going to these classes would be embarrassing. They would be so self-conscious about trying to get everything right, they wouldn't be able to focus on trying to improve.

The affirmative had to prove 2 main benefits, that this change would improve students' learning and grades and that this change would improve students' mental health. They insufficiently prove these because this is only a small group, and they don't prove how this change is going to make students who don't want to learn suddenly become dedicated to the subject. And students who have gotten bad grades on a subject are going to be annoyed when they realise that they have to do more because they know that confusing content is just going to be repeated with not enough to help them, and they don't clearly state that this change is going to have different content taught in new ways. Therefore, the affirmative team is unable to prove these benefits.

The harms that we have to prove, as to the negative team, are that this change disempowers teams and that this change is not the right way to help kids improve their grades. We prove these harms because we prove how, if we take away teenagers' choice, we are taking away their future. We're taking away the ability for them to be interested and empowered about their future. We also show how tutors are more effective as they learn how kids learn best. They tailor the material, and they go back to the right spot where they can see the kids are making the mistake. Ladies and gentlemen, it is a travesty of justice that the affirmative team even considers their case to have valid benefits.


ALLY PITT: Hi, everyone. My name is Ally. I'm representing the adjudicative panel with Jeremiah and Neva. Firstly, I want to thank both teams for what we thought was such an excellent debate. I'm sure we've all been doing a lot of applauding, but I think one more round of applause is deserved for both Narara Valley and Byron Bay.


I'll try and keep this somewhat brief. We thought this was a very good debate. We enjoyed watching it. We had a couple of thoughts, and we had a really good discussion outside. The way this will work is I'll firstly talk about a couple of issues surrounding the ideas of whether or not it's important for kids to learn these things and mental health, and then I'll explain how we think the majority of the debate falls and the stuff about how this affects kids' academics. And finally, we'll announce the state champion at the very end.

So firstly, in terms of these issues in the debate about the importance of learning and about mental health, on this idea of the importance of learning, we hear kind of a push from the negative team at first speaker that is essentially saying that different kids have different talents. You wouldn't expect Sam Kerr to have to do things like remedial maths and stuff like that.

Broadly, we thought the affirmative team's response to these ideas was sufficient to point out that not every kid is likely to be a superstar. The vast majority of people need to succeed, at the end of the day, in the academic fields of studies to get a job. There is a reason why these things are compulsory. Ultimately, at the end of the issue, we did think that students learning this content in the first place was likely to be a good thing.

The second issue that I just wanted to touch on briefly is one about mental health. We think both teams make good arguments and kind of acknowledge with each other that the best way to preserve kids' mental health is being able to make sure they are achieving academically because this raises their self-esteem. Ultimately, we think the impact of these 2 issues at the beginning of this explanation is that the majority of the debate actually just does hinge on, does it improve students' academic performance? The extent we think academic performance is important, the team that wins the debate is the one that maintains that kids have the best academic performance, the same thing with mental health. So that's why the majority of the debate does actually just come to this one main issue.

So in terms of how this affects kids' academic performance, we think there are, perhaps sometimes unclearly at times by both teams raised, a couple of different stakeholders that they think might end up in these remedial courses in the holidays. So we think the first sort of stakeholder that is likely to exist and one that is largely pushed by the affirmative team is kids who want to try hard and succeed in their subjects but just have a bit of difficulty grappling with the content over the time that they spend with it at school. And the second group of kids is kids who might be-- largely pushed by the negative team-- kids who might be actively misbehaving and disrupting disruptive in class, and that's why they're struggling with the content over a longer period of time.

There's very little analysis from either team as to which of these stakeholders we should be prioritising in this debate or which of these groups of stakeholders are actually larger. I do think we get some analysis from the negative team, though, however, which we thought, as a panel, was quite clever. That is, the kids who want to succeed in the world right now and who do really try hard are also likely to take advantages of things that exist for them within the school term, so asking teachers for help and things like that at the time to try and help them understand, which I think is a good bit of analysis that maybe suggests that the majority of kids in these classes, even though there are still likely to be some kids from the former group, are mainly kids from the latter group who are being actively disruptive or there are reasons why they're not focusing in class right now. They don't particularly have a desire to learn. So we think both stakeholders exist, but we do think the group that the negative team points out, they are able to explain perhaps a larger group in the debate.

In terms of how this kind of model is then likely to affect both of these groups, the affirmative model that we get in this debate is one that suggests that these classes probably look like an online class with kids and a teacher in the first instance, then sort of independent study modules, and then a test at the end of the term. And essentially, the explanation from the affirmative team is, because you have these extra classes, you're going to get better and your grades are going to improve.

There are a couple of pushes back on this idea from the negative team. I think, from the very first speech from the negative team, we hear a couple of different ideas, which is to suggest that kids have already failed once in these instances. They're under-- it's unclear how teaching the content in the exact same way as before is actually going to help. You probably have a variety of problems sitting behind your difficulty in these instances, so you might be behind by a couple of years. So it's kind of unclear why just teaching this content again and again is going to make things any different.

What we hear from the third speaker of the affirmative team in response to this idea is the idea, well, we are going to be able to have individualised plans. You're going to have one-on-one discussions with a teacher and stuff like that. I think the negative team is right to point out that these discussions might, in and of themselves, be intimidating. But as a panel, we were somewhat unclear how the analysis from the affirmative team here did actually tie into the model the alternative-- the affirmative team, sorry, presented at the beginning of the debate.

So in so far as the affirmative team agreed that it was necessary to have individualised discussions and things like that, it was kind of unclear how kids doing individualised modules on their own and in their own time was actually going to be able to provide them the benefits of this individualised learning because they were doing it on their own and without teacher assistance in many instances. And so we were not particularly sure how this would actually end up being able to help kids, even kids in the best case scenario who wanted to try it, because it was somewhat unclear how the quality of teaching they were going to get was likely to be any different.

We also hear some other analysis and material here from the second negative speaker that suggests that kids will be distracted if they-- if the kids are the type to be distracted and disruptive, they're also likely to do things like procrastinate this work without a teacher over their shoulder. The affirmative team's response to this is to suggest, well, you can have teachers looking over their shoulder and making sure they're doing the work on time. But this sits somewhat in tension with the affirmative team's material that you need to be able to focus on this material at your own pace and work on it on your own instance.

And so the affirmative team raised a lot of good ideas about how having extra classes might be able to help kids. We don't think that there was any one conception of having these classes that was able to be proven that it would be beneficial for most kids. And the negative team, in comparison, was able to point out, for many kids, it likely wouldn't be that helpful and many kids might be actively disruptive and distracted by it.

What do we hear, then, about this impact that these classes will have, then, if we're not convinced that it will necessarily have a huge amount of impact on kids in terms of improving their academic performance because it may just be good to try? What we hear from the first negative speaker is that there is a risk of tiring kids out in the holidays, basically stressing them out, frustrating kids who don't want to be in these classes in the first place. And then it might mean that they are ultimately more tired out when they go back to school. And the implication, I guess there, is it has a negative impact on their mental health or maybe it might affect their academics in the long term.

What we hear from the third affirmative speaker is this idea of, well, because it's kind of these self-guided modules and it's only going to be a little bit in the holidays, they still have other time to relax and get things back so they're able to, I guess, succeed in the future, and they still are able to relax as well. Insofar as we believe that this may be true as a way to mitigate the harm the negative team presents in this debate, we also think it also limits the ability of the affirmative team to claim that they're actually going to get an academic benefit. If it's only very little classes, it's somewhat unclear that it's going to be hugely beneficial to kids.

But ultimately, what we thought the negative team were able to point out here at the end of the debate is that kids might feel particularly angry or frustrated by doing this in the first place. They might find it a bit embarrassing. They might find it a bit difficult. And so, ultimately, in the event that it is unlikely to necessarily have a huge benefit to these kids and they're not likely to learn that much, it seemed like it probably wasn't worth risking these kids' mental health, even for small classes, because they were likely to find it unsatisfactory. And so for those reasons, in a quite close but ultimately unanimous decision, we award this debate to the negative team, Byron.


JASMINE SMITH: Firstly, I would like to thank all the students, teachers, and organisers and adjudicators that have done this. And you guys, all the students here, should be really proud that you've made it here. This is an amazing achievement. And you guys were absolutely amazing. You put us in a really tough position, and you should be really proud of yourself and you should deserve this.


DARREN ANAK AGUNG: Please welcome the member of the winning team to respond.


HALO BANFIELD: Thank you to everyone who made such a wonderful event happen and all the students who put up great debates and all the organisers. It's been really fun. And thank you for such a hard-fought battle. It's been a great experience. Thank you.


JUSTINE CLARKE: Cordelia. And Jasmine. And their coach, Anthony.


Congratulations to our runners up.


Hannah. Liberty. And Silke. And if we can get Lloyd Cameron to hand out the Lloyd Cameron Cup to our state finalists.



TEACHER: Thank you.

LLOYD CAMERON: Can you hold that? Should we gather around the table?

ALL: Yeah.

LLOYD CAMERON: Gather around the table.


LLOYD CAMERON: Other way. That's better.

JUSTINE CLARKE: Congratulations to our state champions.


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