Skip to content
The UK's only independent think tank devoted to higher education.

HEPI Balloon Debate on ‘What is the right age to begin academic selection?’

  • 16 December 2020
  • 6pm - 7.15pm

**UPDATE** A recording of the webinar can now be viewed below:

HEPI’s final webinar before the 2020 Christmas break is a little different to all the others we have run this year. On Wednesday 16 December, we are hosting a balloon debate on the right age for academic selection, with different speakers advocating for 11, 14, 16 and 18, plus one speaker arguing against all academic selection. The webinar is being run in the early evening, so that people feel able to log in, perhaps with a glass of wine in hand, to take part in what we hope will be a fierce but good-natured debate.

Speakers now confirmed:

11: The Lord Lucas

14: The Rt Hon. the Lord Baker of Dorking, former Secretary of State for Education and Science and now Chair of the Baker-Dearing Educational Trust

16: Bill Watkin, Chief Executive of the Sixth Form Colleges Association

18: Mary Curnock Cook, former CEO of UCAS, Chair of Trustees of the Access Project and Chair of the Dyson Institute

No selection: Dr Sol Gamsu, Assistant Professor in the Department of Sociology, Durham University

Balloon debates

According to the English Speaking Union, Balloon debates are based on the idea that ‘five people are in a hot air balloon. It is sinking because it is too heavy. The only way for us to survive is for one person to be thrown out of the balloon.’

In the first stage, each speaker delivers a short speech – in the case of this HEPI debate, limited to six minutes – explaining why they should not be thrown out of the balloon.

Afterwards, the audience has the opportunity to make points and ask questions of the speakers.

Towards the end, each speaker will be asked to summarise their arguments for a maximum of two minutes.

Finally, we will use electronic polls to determine the order in which the audience feel people should leave the balloon. In the first round of voting, all the candidates will be included in the poll and, in the second round, the person who came last in the first round will be removed and so on. This process will continue until there are only two people left and the winner of this final poll will be declared the winner of the debate.

To register your place, please click on the following link:

The event is free to attend and open to all. For any queries, please contact [email protected].

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *