Stepping up to the virtual podium last week, Sixth Form pupil Thomas Locke was one of just 22 pupils nationally who took part in the finals of the 2020 Historical Association ‘Great Debate’.  
 
Every year, the Historical Association organises a national public speaking competition, the ‘Great Debate’. This involves Sixth Form pupils researching an historical topic on a particular theme. This year the topic/theme was ‘Should we judge historical figures by the morals of today?’ Thomas chose as his subject the 19th century scientist Francis Galton who was a pioneer in the controversial and now discredited area of eugenics. Having won the local branch final organised by the HA’s Chichester branch, and after a lengthy pause necessitated by COVID-19, he went on last week to win the national final against 21 other, very strong, competitors. Although necessarily, he had to pre-record and upload his speech for the final in advance, he still had to face some tough live questions from the judges.
 
“It was a real shame that the finals couldn’t happen as planned at Windsor Castle,” said Thomas. “That did not stop it being any less intense however, the questions from the judges were incredibly challenging to investigate my depth of knowledge and understanding. Winning was simply amazing and I am incredibly proud to have done so.”
 
“Coming first in such a competitive national competition that required skills of both oratory and historical research, is an excellent and very well deserved result,” said Mr Simon Lemieux, Head of History and Politics. “Not surprisingly, Thomas intends to continue with his historical studies at university next year.”