Child poverty at heart of Holyrood debate


Students from schools and Universities across Scotland will gather at the Parliament on Monday 7 February to compete for the St Andrew’s Day debating prize.

The debate was originally scheduled for November last year but to be postponed due to the snowy weather.

The fourth St Andrew’s Day Debates final will focus on issues affecting young people in Scotland today, and in particular child poverty.

The debate, jointly organised by The Scottish Parliament, Scottish Government and English Speaking Union, brings together University and School teams from across Scotland to debate their way through to the championship final.

Deputy Presiding Officer Aladsair Morgan MSP will officially welcome the participants to Holyrood and chair the debating final.

The judging panel for the final debate includes:

  • The reverend Neil Galbraith
  • Editor of the Times Education Supplement Scotland, Neil Munro
  • Political Correspondent, BBC Scotland, Glen Campbell
  • Former Chair and current treasurer of English-Speaking Union Scotland, Jon Dye

Mr Morgan MSP said:

“Today we welcome young debaters from across Scotland to take part in this Debate. The issues under discussion are of paramount importance to young people in Scotland and are sure to challenge the debating skills of our finalists. I look forward to listening to the young deliberators’ debate these important topics and can think of no better place for them to showcase their talents than in the parliamentary chamber. “

Housing and Communities Minister Alex Neil MSP said:

"The Scottish Government has a wide range of innovative home-grown policies in place to tackle poverty.

"We will soon be setting out Scotland's first Child Poverty Strategy, which will help to consign child poverty to the history books for good. I am pleased that our young people will be debating such a significant issue in the Scottish Parliament and I wish them all well in getting important points across."

Jon Dye, treasurer, English Speaking Union Scotland said:

“I’m pleased that the Parliament and Scottish Government have again provided such valuable support to the ESU. Developing the speaking skills of Scotland’s young people is one of the key aims of the organisation and we welcome their continued support of this work. I’m sure all participants are looking forward to having the opportunity to debate in the debating chamber on these issues, which are so relevant to young people in Scotland today.”

Throughout day there will be discussions on a number of topics:

  • Round one – “This house would lower the voting age to 16 in any future referendum”
  • Round two - “This house would make the teaching of Scottish History compulsory in schools.”
  • Championship Final - the final topic will be revealed to finalists on the day but will relate to child poverty.

Background information

The following schools will be participating in the debate:

-Fettes School (Edinburgh West)

-Bearsden Academy (Clydebank & Milngavie)

-Craigmount High School (Edinburgh Central)

-St Columbas of Kilmacolm (West Renfrewshire)

-Dollar Academy (Ochil)

-St Mary’s Music School (Edinburgh Central)

-Mearns Castle High School (Eastwood)

-Millburn Academy (Inverness east, Nairn & Lochaber)

-Nairn Academy (Inverness east, Nairn & Lochaber)

-Stewart’s Melville (Edinburgh Central)

-Uddingston Grammar School (Hamilton North & Bellshill)

The following Universities will be participating in the debate:

-University of St Andrew’s

-University of Edinburgh

-Herriot Watt University

- University of Glasgow

-University of Aberdeen

In support of the ‘Cross Out Child Poverty in Scotland’ campaign, the final motion for this year’s debating championship focuses on child poverty. For more information about the campaign, visit

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