Kingswood has hosted an annual Model United Nations conference for many years, attracting schools from across the United Kingdom and beyond to take part. The event is one of the largest of its kind in the country. In 2015 it celebrated its twenty-fifth year, with 650 students from 46 schools gathering in early March for a weekend of debate and discussion on the issues confronting the global community today with delegates from as far afield as the Czech Republic, Germany and Portugal.
Model United Nations (or MUN as it is commonly known) is a role play exercise. Students form delegations to represent the various member states of the UN. They research their allocated countries in advance of the conference so that they are then able to reflect accurately the views of those countries in debates on a range of contemporary issues, ranging from politics and the environment to health and human rights. At the 2016 conference, for example, students will be wrestling with the complexities of topics as diverse as antimicrobial resistance, the situation in Syria, climate change and the rights of the disabled. Debates are conducted according to official UN procedures, and during the conference weekend students are also presented with an emergency scenario, where they have to respond to an unexpected crisis that demands an international response.
Each year around a hundred Kingswood students take part in the conference. All year groups are able to get involved, from the Year 7 and 8 pupils who act as runners to the older students who participate as delegates. Sixth formers take a leadership role, serving as chairs of the various specialist committees and helping to organise the entire event.
MUN is a unique experience. Those who take part not only learn a great deal about the issues confronting the world today, but also develop a range of valuable skills, including how to collaborate with others, how to lead, how to work towards a consensus, and how to advance an argument persuasively in debate. It broadens horizons, both through the exchange of ideas it facilitates and through the range of students it brings together from a wide variety of schools.
In addition, Kingswood School also runs a lively MUN training programme, also known as K-MUN. By participating in K-MUN, students will have the opportunity to prepare for and attend external conferences around the UK, and hopefully, in the future, abroad. Next season will see students attending conferences in Manchester and London, as well as hosting more informal MUN events at Kingswood. These events allow students to build productive and effective relationships to achieve common goals.
By attending weekly sessions as part of the activities provision, students in Years 9-13 learn about conference format, practice debate procedure, write resolutions and research a wide range of global issues. By adopting the views of other countries, students are encouraged to look outside of themselves, which is an important life skill. They also develop their skills in public speaking, critical thinking, debate, negotiation, problem solving, research, writing, teamwork, and leadership — all valuable skills for University, career, and lifelong learning.
For more information please go to http://www.modelunitednations.co.uk