The struggle to take debating beyond elite private schools is evident. State schools in the UK do not have public speaking on the curriculum and lack the facilities to promote this, with old parquet floored box halls still predominantly featuring in most state schools (97% of the education sector in the UK).
However, the private sector is leading the way in the Education Building Design.
Here confident, articulated public speaking is one of the primary objectives for every student. Good quality auditoria buildings assist this within schools for drama, spoken performance and music.
We recognise always more the benefits of public speaking in relation to business promotion. So, some state schools are now following the private sector’s example. Pupils at Redden Court School, a state secondary on London’s eastern outskirts, contend with meaty topics when they give up their lunch breaks for debate club. The school is one of many in the state sector to have taken up debating in recent years.
Yet despite the state system’s best efforts, success in elite debating tournaments is not just becoming more concentrated in private schools, but in the half dozen of them that take it most seriously. Some hire international debating superstars to tutor their pupils. In 2015, Eton College, one of Britain’s grandest schools opened a debating chamber that cost £18M. The private sector is taking this skill very seriously whereby advocates posit a range of benefits. In fact, they argue the confidence and fluency debating inspires will help children in future University applications, job interviews and business promotion/sourcing.
The argument to teach debating and public speaking in schools are clear. However, the facilities are largely inadequate and do not promote this skill. We at SpaceShapers have designed school theatres to accommodate public speaking and performance arts.