Discussion and Debate

Debating has a long tradition at Abingdon. Whether it’s current affairs, religion, philosophy or books that is of interest, there are plenty of clubs and activities to choose from with opportunities to discuss and share ideas. Listed below are just some of the examples.

Christian Forum

An opportunity for all year groups to explore the Christian faith through discussion, videos, guest speakers and Bible study, with games and food as an added incentive! We'll be looking at questions like, How does Christianity relate to contemporary issues? Can science and faith go together? Why should we bother with an ancient book like the Bible? What difference does faith make in everyday life?

Confirmation Preparation

For most people, becoming a Christian is like a journey. The journey involves faith but also doubt, lots of questions and some surprising and wonderful answers. The journey is unique to each one of us and yet it works best when we share it with others. The confirmation class is an important part of the journey of faith. It is designed for those considering the possibility of becoming an adult member of the Anglican Church and leads to a memorable confirmation service. The course will consist of three components: What Christians believe, How Christians grow and Living the Christian Life. Food will be provided.

Allegedly Abingdon’s oldest non-sporting society, the Debating Society is the place to argue and form opinions about a variety of topics and motions. If you love an argument, or generally thrive on controversy, this is the society for you.

We have debated everything from the serious politics of the Falklands and the National Health Service to rather more abstract ideas such as whether we should follow our dreams in life, via the thorny issues of organ donation and torturing terrorists. In the open debates on Friday, volunteer speakers put their views across in speeches before the debate gets opened up to the floor, when all the other people who have opinions get their say, and lively disagreement inevitably ensues.

We also enter teams into a number of national competitions in debating and public speaking and run workshops to help you improve your debating skills. Throughout the year, we also arrange popular dinner debates with girls’ schools for the senior members of the society. Within the Debating Society there are also opportunities for Sixth Form pupils to meet in smaller groups to hold debates - and there is a workshop aimed at Middle School pupils to help them develop debating and public speaking skills.

For the Lower School, there is an opportunity for boys to hone their public speaking skills while debating topical issues. Joint debates with St Helen’s can be arranged over the course of the year.

Law Society is for Sixth Form students who want to develop their understanding of the theory and practice of law. It is ideal for anyone considering a career in law or interested in the subject for its own sake.

Our activities include discussions of the mechanics of the UK and US legal systems, mock trials and debates on jurisprudence and points of law.

Debating in a foreign language is one of the highest skills and is not only useful for exams or university preparation but for life. As many of you know, it is also a lot of fun to think laterally and outdo your opponents. Abingdon teams have been extremely successful in external competitions in recent years and we aim to prepare you for at least one if not two competitions.

Mindfulness club provides a quiet and focused space for students to learn about, and try out, some of the practices of mindfulness. We learn about the principles behind mindfulness, try out focused meditation (using the “Headspace” website as our guide), and talk about how to apply the principles throughout the rest of the week. Boys have said it has helped improve their focus, and helps them recognise the joy in the every day.

Through the Model United Nations Society we will take delegations along to conferences throughout the year at other schools. At these we will represent a country’s interest in debates. It’s an excellent way of building legal, political and debating experience as well as broadening knowledge of current and international affairs and socialising with other schools. (Also see Debating).

As an introduction to MUN, there is a Young MUN for third year boys.

An opportunity to discuss psychological issues in the news media and films. An understanding of how people behave, along with the thought processes and emotions which govern their behaviour is both a life skill and beneficial to the study of a range of other subjects. Topics might include psychopaths, addiction, voting or spending behaviour, happiness, conformity and making choices. We explore news items or watch a film with a psychological theme. A good option for anyone who is interested in psychology or who is considering further study in social or health sciences.

Reading Groups are for students who want to be adventurous in their reading and enjoy wide-ranging discussions of what they like and don’t like in a book. Groups collectively decide which books to read together, typically getting through two or three in a term. 

Books and Biscuits – Lower School

The Lower School group focuses on fiction. In the Summer Term, we join with other local schools to shadow the annual Carnegie medal for the best children's book of the year.

Novels and Nibbles – Third Year 
Reading and Refreshments – Fourth Year

The Third and Fourth Year groups cover both fiction and non-fiction. Our discussions are wide-ranging and include the significance of literature and ideas in society.