More than 110 pupils will descend on the Scottish Parliament today to compete against each other in Scotland’s largest annual schools debating tournament.
Teams from four schools battled their way through a series of heats and semi-finals to secure a place in the last stage of the competition which takes place in the main chamber this evening.
Organised and run by the Law Society of Scotland, the tournament is dedicated to the memory of the former First Minister Donald Dewar MSP, who died in 2000.
The four teams in the final this year are:
- Craigmount High School from Edinburgh
- Madras College from St Andrews
- Glasgow Academy
- St Margaret’s School for Girls from Aberdeen.
In addition to the finalists, five other schools will be taking part in a debate on the floor of the chamber - Douglas Academy, Greenock Academy, The High School of Dundee, Jedburgh Grammar School, and Uddingston Grammar School.
Deputy Presiding Officer Trish Godman MSP, who will chair the debate, said: “Since its establishment in 1999 the Scottish Parliament has sought to encourage young people to become engaged in the work of their Parliament.
“The Dewar Debate provides an opportunity for its participants to express their views and to test their debating skills in the parliament’s chamber. With 128 teams taking part in this competition from all corners of Scotland, it is a real achievement for the four finalists to have come this far and I look forward to what promises to be a lively and topical debate.”
The Law Society of Scotland’s education and training development officer, Heather McPhee, said: “This year we have been working with our key partner, the Scottish European Educational Trust, to debate motions relating to Europe. We’re delighted that through this partnership we’ve been able to bring issues relating to Europe to the fore.
“It’s something that the pupils themselves have been enthusiastic about and I’m looking forward to hear what their thoughts are on the European way of life in tonight’s final.”
The winning school will receive a prize of £1000 donated by the Law Society of Scotland together with the tournament trophy, while a second prize of £250 donated by the Glasgow Bar Association will be awarded to the runner-up school.
Both the winning and runner-up schools will also receive educational books worth £500 donated by Hodder Gibson, and all team members taking part will receive quaichs and certificates to commemorate the event.
Open to all secondary schools across Scotland, the tournament is an annual event run by the Law Society of Scotland since 1999. The competition aims to promote an understanding of the importance of debate, advocacy and communication to the legal profession, democracy and society at large.
The judges for the event will be:
- Gerald Wilson, Chairman of the Scottish European Educational Trust
- Neil Stevenson, Trustee of the English Speaking Union
- Irene McGrath, Chairwoman of the Scottish Schools International Debating Council
- Jon Dye, Chairman Emeritus English Speaking Union
- Michael Matheson MSP, Deputy Convener of the European and External Relations Committee.
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