Students debate devolution babies at Holyrood


More than 100 school children will be talking about devolution babies in the Chamber of the Scottish Parliament today as part of the biggest schools debating tournament in Scotland.

At 6.15pm, the four top teams in the 2009 Donald Dewar Memorial Debating Tournament will be debating the motion "This house believes that the babies of 1999 are reaping the benefits of devolution"– a topic chosen to tie in with the 10th anniversary of the Scottish Parliament.

The four teams of finalists in the tournament, which is organised and run by the Law Society of Scotland, are:

  • Madras College in St Andrews
  • Glasgow Academy in Glasgow
  • Mearns Castle High School in Newton Mearns
  • George Heriot’s in Edinburgh

Pupils from Douglas Academy in Milngavie, and the Royal High School and St Mary’s Music School, both in Edinburgh, will also participate in the debate.

Presiding Officer Alex Fergusson MSP, who will be chairing the debate, said: “Since our establishment in 1999, the voice of Scotland’s young people has been vital to Holyrood and we aim to ensure that there continues to be many relevant and innovative ways in which young people can engage with their Parliament.

"With more than 130 teams taking part from the Scottish Borders to the Western Isles – it’s 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 winning school will receive a first prize of £1,000 donated by the Law Society of Scotland together with the tournament trophy, while second-prize winners will receive £250 donated by the Glasgow Bar Association. Hodder Gibson will donate educational books to the value of £500 to be shared by the winning and runner-up school and all finalists taking part will receive individual quaichs and certificates.

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:

  • Jon Dye, director of the English Speaking Union Scotland
  • Karen Whitefield MSP, convener of the Education, Lifelong Learning and Culture Committee
  • Irene McGrath
  • Hilary Lynn, treasurer of the Scottish Youth Parliament
  • Neil Stevenson, Law Society of Scotland

This year the tournament has been partnered by the Scottish Youth Parliament and supported by YoungScot.

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