Muslim schoolgirl from east London wins prestigious Eton debating competition

Selina Begum [Image: The Times]

A Muslim schoolgirl from one of the most deprived areas in Britain has become the first state school pupil to win the individual prize in a prestigious Eton debating competition.

Selina Begum was judged the best debater ahead of 200 pupils, many of whom study at the country’s top independent schools including Eton College, as well as Winchester College and Westminster.

The bright 16-year-old who is studying A Level in maths, economics, politics and history at Newham Collegiate Sixth Form, beat her fee-paying rivals in motion debates on junk food and rights to privacy, as well as preparing an argument for the abolition of the death penalty in the US.

She told the Daily Mail: “It was intimidating. The students from Eton and the other really independent schools were so confident. They got up and spoke without notes and seemed like they had been doing it all their lives.

“But Mr Singh told me not to be scared, that my arguments were just as well thought out as theirs.”

“Before I came here, I had done some debating at my school both nothing on this scale.

“It makes me so happy to realise that despite my background I can compete with pupils at these types of schools.”

Newham Collegiate Sixth Form hit the headlines last summer when their former city lawyer principal, Mouhssin Islam, helped 95 per cent of his students win places at Russell Group Universities.

The Eton Autumn Invitational was held at Eton College two weeks ago.

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