On Friday 6 November, I hosted the sixth annual Cherwell Democracy Challenge.
Despite this year’s challenge taking place virtually given coronavirus restrictions, the local secondary schools participating upheld an impressive standard of debating. Opening debates covered topical issues, including whether all children should be entitled to a free school meal and whether Parliament should be relocated to Oxford. After careful deliberation, Bloxham School and The Cooper School narrowly beat The Bicester School to the final. Debating the topic of whether the UK’s Covid restrictions unnecessarily infringe upon civil liberties, the final was a lively and closely fought contest, with Bloxham emerging as the victors.
I was so pleased that I could go ahead with my annual Cherwell Democracy Challenge given the current circumstances. I am always so impressed by the standard of arguments from local students and this year was no different. All the teams coped brilliantly with the added challenges of a virtual debate. It is great to see young people in our constituency demonstrating awareness and understanding of important national issues. Bloxham gave a particularly impressive performance in the final. I would like to thank Barry Wood, Leader of Cherwell District Council, John Colegrave, Mayor of Banbury, and Miranda Markham, Community Relations Director at Bicester Village, for taking the time out of their busy schedules to judge the debates. I am already looking forward to next year’s competition and I hope that all secondary schools in my constituency will get involved.
The challenge marked the end of UK Parliament Week which aims to engage young people in discussion about democracy and empowerment in the UK. This year, Banbury was the most engaged constituency in the country, with more schools, groups and young people signed up to take part in the activities than any other constituency.