Wednesday 26th January was Founder’s Day, when Runnymede College commemorates Mr Arthur Powell OBE, who founded the school 54 years ago with the support of his wife, Mrs Julia Powell.
In their memory and honour, the annual Founder’s Debate was held in the Julia Powell Auditorium & Sports Hall. This year’s event followed the “balloon debate” format, in which different figures from history argue why they shouldn’t be thrown out of a rapidly descending hot-air ballon. In a fun twist, this year’s speakers embodied the four heads of Runnymede’s Houses, which were established by the school’s Founder: the political philosopher John Locke, the mathematician and physicist Isaac Newton, the novelist Jane Austen, and the economist J.M. Keynes. Four talented sixth formers (Rafa S., Amalia de G., Martina B., Gonzalo R.) delivered confident, well-researched and engaging speeches to outline their characters’ life stories and many achievements, seeking to justify their continuing presence in the balloon.
There followed a brilliant question-and-answer session, compered by Mr Crumpton, which featured many acute and interesting queries from an audience made up of the pupils from Years 7, 8 and 9. The debaters responded with wit, knowledge and skill; “Keynes'” sardonic response to a question about his views on cryptocurrency being a particular highlight. Perhaps partly because of Gonzalo’s amusing performance, in the end the audience voted to save Keynes. However, everyone agreed that each speaker had shown impressive public speaking skills throughout.
The afternoon highlighted the versatility of the Julia Powell building as a space for school events, as well as the attentive focus of the Key Stage 3 audience; and of course the talent of the sixth formers involved. We hope the Founders would have thoroughly enjoyed the Debate.