Royal High School Bath students become negotiators at Model United Nations

Year 8 and Year 9 students at Royal High School Bath took part in a lively and intense Junior Model United Nations recently.

The event was part of the school’s Festival of Ideas, an annual event when Royal High students from all years unite their thinking around a theme which is supported by a programme of activities and visiting speakers. This year’s theme is Harmony and over two days, Year 8 and 9 students explored this while participating as delegates of various countries and increasing their awareness of world issues and global relations.

To help get the students started, guest speaker, Anna Osborne, shared the real-life contexts of her role as a peace keeper for the United Nations security council and her experiences of helping to bring harmony around the world through her work.

Inspired by the guest speaker, students worked in teams of delegate countries researching the United Nations and Human Rights, their country’s physical and political geography, considering global issues and the important work being done to address these concerns.

On the first day, each country was asked to consider two global issues, one on freedom of press, and one on the rights of women, from their country’s point of view. This task fostered students’ global perspectives, compelling them to consider thoughts and ideas which may have contradicted their own. The following day, students learned the rules of speech writing and lobbying, and worked in their groups to write their country’s resolutions, before gathering together in a hive of negotiation and persuasion during a ‘lobbying’ session in preparation for a formal Model United Nations debate. The two days of hard work paid off, culminating in a very lively and engaging formal debate with all countries taking part in voting and discussions.

Commenting on their experience of being ‘delegates’ for Switzerland, Year 8 and 9 students, Serena, Darcy, Tilly, Daisy, Arabella and Omi, said:

“We have really enjoyed ‘being Switzerland’ over the last couple of days. We like how flexible it is as a nation, what we have notice is how neutral it is with no super strong opinions. We have found it interesting doing all the research, thinking about resolutions and having conversations within the group. It has also been really fun interacting with all the different countries particularly during the lobbying session, trying to get other countries to sign your petition.

“We also enjoyed hearing the different countries put their points across during the debates, it has really helped us to think about people in other countries, and their lives and experiences, as well as given us a better understanding of how the United Nations works.”

Mrs Hilliam, Head of Academic Extension, who organised this year’s Festival of Ideas and Model United Nations said: “This year’s Festival of Ideas has proved to be another exciting, collaborative, and thought provoking two days. We are very grateful to our visiting speaker, Anna Osborne, for her inspiring talk and for giving such important insight into the role of the United Nations.

“I was really impressed with how our students all worked so well together; they really demonstrated their RHB Learner Qualities and were brave, reflective, inquisitive and collaborative; planning and organising their teams well, completing individual tasks that contributed to a broader understanding, as well as listening carefully to other’s ideas in order to agree on a ‘resolution.’

“While all the groups did an immense job and received a treat at the end for their hard work, special mentions were awarded to China, Switzerland, Argentina and France prizes for their group work. Argentina showed great curiosity in their research. Switzerland worked extremely well collaboratively as a team to produce their resolutions. France were sparky in their creative and innovative approach to research, data presentation and their persuasive speech. A special mention should go to Rosie P, delegate for France, who spoke so eloquently on behalf of her country and answered some challenging questions. She has a single head’s commendation for being ‘brave.

“Thank you everyone, staff and students alike, for making this such a great success. Mr DeBono in particular was a judicious chair of the debate, welcoming resolutions from France and Argentina. It was wonderful to see how our students really understood and engaged with the Model UN, understanding that during the process, they needed to adopt different perspectives, some of which conflicted with their own attitudes and values – however, it encouraged lively debate and discussion and added to the experience of seeing the world from a global perspective and the understanding of the theme of ‘harmony’.”