John Willmott School made history in the Royal Town’s annual Sixth Form Parliamentary Debating Competition for the second year in a row – when their team of Year 11 students won first prize.

The event, which has been running for more than 20 years, is usually reserved for Sixth Formers, but since the closure of John Willmott’s Sixth Form, their brilliant Year 11 pupils were allowed to compete.

The grand annual debate was being held at John Willmott on Thursday April 26, after the school – which is part of the Respected Arthur Terry Learning Partnership – won it for the first time ever last year.

So, following the long-standing tradition of the winner hosting the next year, John Willmott students Toby Fisher and Bilal Williams-Jameel found themselves on home turf as they became the first Year 11s to take part – and they won.

John Willmott headteacher Nicola Gould said the victory was further evidence of transformed attitudes at the school, which is undergoing a reinvention which will see it renamed the Royal Sutton School later this year.

She said: “I feel overwhelmed. The joy of winning for the second year running is phenomenal.

“It shows the effort we’ve put into our curriculum is paying off – to have Year 11s compete against Sixth Formers and win is incredible. Toby and Bilal have really done us proud.

“Experiences like tonight allow our students to have pride in their school and see that achieving great things is possible.”

Second place went to Rohan Deepak and Omar Maamoun of Bishop Vesey’s Grammar School, while the ‘Outstanding Debater of the Night’ award went to Charlie O’Neill of Arthur Terry School.

The students debated such complex and relevant topics as climate change, national service, the location of Parliament and whether Sutton Coldfield should be part of Birmingham, before debating unseen motions in the second round.

Their skill and passion impressed judges Gary Phelps; Tina Swani, CEO of Sutton Coldfield Charitable Trust; Dennis Kennedy, organiser of the Sutton Community Games; and Sutton Coldfield MP Andrew Mitchell.

Other students who participated in the debates included Poppy Deekes and Charlie O’Neill from The Arthur Terry School, and Giovanni Boyvadaoglu and Asher Rogers from Bishop Walsh Catholic School. Representing Fairfax Academy were Zekiah Brown and Jack Vickers, while Plantsbrook School was represented by Riley Evans and Kaloyan Pavlov. Sutton Coldfield College’s debaters were Scott Jeffries and Nathan Line, and Sutton Coldfield Girls’ Grammar School was represented by Lexi Birchley and Hannah Hussain.

Mr Mitchell said: “Yet again, the annual Parliamentary Debating contest provided not only an entertaining and thought-provoking evening, but clear evidence of just how lucky we are to have so many brilliant schools in the Royal Town.

“I want to thank all everyone who made it such a special event – the school staff, the audience and, of course the brilliant students who spoke with such eloquence and passion. I am already looking forward to next year’s competition, which once again will be held at John Wilmott School – which by then will have been renamed the Royal Sutton School.”

All of the participating students will be given a tour of the House of Commons by Mr Mitchell later this year, and will get the opportunity to see real Parliamentary debates in action.