Debating Society

The Debating Society is student led and meets every other Tuesday lunch time in the Lecture Theatre for lively debate whether of politics or of conspiracy theories.


Public Speaking at PC 

All students study English Language at GCSE Level.  Speaking and Listening is a key component of this subject.  Students participate in a range of activities within their timetabled English classes and have the opportunity to develop their skills further through participation in several public speaking competitions held mostly in the month of November with Finals taking place February/ March.   For example: 

  • The Edgar Graham Memorial Public Speaking Competition – a five minute speech on a topic of your choice, delivered in the prestigious location of the Senate chamber at Stormont.
  • Soroptimist International NI Public Speaking Competition – only open to girls in Year 12 and 13. Individuals speak on a topic selected from a range of topical titles supplied in advance by the Soroptimist society whose aim is to empower girls by providing them with opportunities to develop their talents.
  • Business and Professional Women Public Speaking Competition – a team of three with a Chairperson, Speaker and Expresser of Thanks. The Speaker swaps with another team.  This means that the Chairperson has to introduce someone they have only met fifteen minutes beforehand and the Expresser of Thanks has to thank the same person.  The Speaker has to answer two questions unknown in advance. Wit and humour are essential as well as resourcefulness and the ability to think on your feet.


Portadown College Public speakers win NI Final of the Business and Professional Women’s Public Speaking competition again.

This continues the College’s outstanding success in this competition. It is the third consecutive year they have won the NI Final. The 2017 team went on to win the National Final against teams from England and Wales, hosted at the prestigious public school, Moreton Hall in Shropshire. Last year’s team were denied the opportunity as the National Final did not take place. This year the event will be held at Stormont and teams from England and Wales will travel to contest the trophies.

The local team consists of Joanna Kerr acting as Chairperson, Joshua Quinn, the Speaker and Danielle Weir, Expresser of Thanks. Joanna won Best Chairperson, while Danielle was awarded Best Expresser of Thanks. Encouragingly for Joshua, he was encouraged by an adjudicator’s commendation when informed that the adjudicating team had been split over Best Speaker.

The competition takes the format of a meeting in miniature. The role of the Chairperson is to welcome everyone, put them at their ease, introduce the Speaker and manage the proceedings. The speaker addresses the audience for 6 minutes on a topic of their choice and responds to two questions, one from a member of the audience, the other from the Chairperson. The Expresser of Thanks reflects on the speech on behalf of the audience and expresses their gratitude to the Speaker. This may sound straightforward but is complicated by the fact that each Speaker joins a Chairperson and Expresser of Thanks from a different team. This means they have to be quick thinking and calm under pressure as they adapt to a Speaker whom they have never met before and a topic unfamiliar to them beforehand. Similarly, the Speaker has to answer questions without having any idea of their content in advance, which demands real depth of knowledge and understanding and the ability to be articulate and spontaneous.

Public Speaking at Portadown College is mentored by Mrs Montgomery, Head of English. She is delighted with the success of her speakers, not only in this competition but also in the Soroptimist Public Speaking Competition and the Edgar Graham Memorial Public Speaking Competition which has been won by the College two out of the last three years. For her, winning is a bonus. Learning skills which are transferable to any real life environment and the experience of competing and meeting young people from other schools are what makes these events so worthwhile and enjoyable.

Soroptimist Public Speaking Competition 2018 

Six talented public speakers from Year 13 participated in the annual regional heat of the Soroptimist Public Speaking Competition held in Portadown, November 21st.

Lily McClatchey was awarded second place, as she had been last year, perpetuating Portadown College’s excellent record in this event (1st in 2011 and 2012, 2nd and 3rd 2013, 1st 2014, 2nd 2015, 2nd2016 and 2nd and 3rd 2017). She spoke passionately on whether society determines normality.

The other competitors, Jessica Calvert, Anna and Lois Campbell, Sarah Herron and Lucy Vallelly also participated with confidence and charisma on a range of topical issues.


2016-17 Events


PC public speakers have triumphed in the Business and Professional Women’s Public Speaking National Final in England.

Having emerged victorious from the BPW NI Final in February, Portadown College’s Public Speakers proceeded to the National Final in England on Saturday 25 March and were equally impressive.

Katherine Whitten defended the right to freedom of conscience, tackling the topically controversial ruling on Asher’s bakery, supported by Tim Neill as Chairman and Alex Maxwell as Expresser of Thanks. They were awarded Best Team with Tim singled out as Best Chairman and Alex as Best Expresser of Thanks.

This is an exceptional achievement and a fitting conclusion to another excellent year of competing, with students placed first or second in all competitions entered.

Soroptomist Certificates for PC Public Speakers

This is a competition for girls in Years 12 and 13.  Becky Gilmore was awarded second place.  Other participants were Sophie Hill, Joanna Kerr, Alex Maxwell and Katherine Whitten.

Inter-House Debating Competition

Seale talk their way to victory at PC House Debating Competition 2018

PC’s debaters enjoyed their final face-off at their annual House Debate on Wednesday 2nd May, chaired authoritatively by Matthew Walsh and adjudicated with good humour by Principal Mr Harper.

The competition kicked off with a motion addressing the gender pay gap, seeing Shillington’s Kiara McClelland and Amy Boyce’s Proposition win the argument over a very passionate Joanna Kerr who spoke for the opposition.

Josh Quinn and Matthew Wilson proposed the West’s intervention in the East facing stiff competition from Year 11 Seale speakers Alanna Cahoon and Callum Douglas.

The competition ended characteristically with a light-hearted motion as Viggo Stanzack and Beth Preston proposed that the earth was in fact flat! This initiated a lively discussion complete with visual aids against the very competent opposing team of Nye Crozier and Emily Monroe.

Adjudications from Mr Harper commended Kiara McClelland as the “most compelling” speaker winning Best Speaker, with Nye Crozier, Viggo Stanzack and Seale duo Alanna Cahoon and Callum Douglas winning Best Debater, Best Proposition and Best Opposition respectively.

While Shillington’s team of Kiara McClelland and Amy Boyce earned the Best Team award, it was the Seale debaters who argued their way to overall victory at the House Debate.

Thanks go to Mr Harper for adjudicating the debates, to Mr Wright for organising the event and to Jonathan Reid as timekeeper.

Inter-house Debating Competition 2017

A capacity audience were treated to three lively debates last Wednesday:

  1. This house believes that MLAs should work together or get out!
  2. This house believes that marriage is not the business of the state
  3. This house believes that millennial music rocks baby!

Best Proposition: Kiara McClelland  and Amy Boyce

Best Opposition: Matthew Walsh and Connor Brown

Best Speaker: Kiara McClelland

Best Response to Questions: Joanna Kerr

Best House:
Third place: Seale – Sophie Hill, Lucy Millsopp, Hollie Teggart, Thomas Frampton

Second: Macallum – Sophie Heasley, Helen Mullen, Joanna Kerr, Viggo Stanczac

First place: Shillington – Kiara McClelland, Amy Boyce, Matthew Walsh, Connor Brown