Students hone their debating skills in Dewar Debate competition final


Over 80 students from secondary schools across Scotland will tonight attend the final of the annual Donald Dewar memorial Debating Tournament at the Scottish Parliament.

Established in 1999, Scotland’s largest annual schools debating tournament is open to pupils in all Scottish secondary schools. 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.

This year 128 teams have sharpened their debating skills to come through a series of heats, the final of which will take place in the Debating Chamber of the Parliament.

The four teams in this year’s final are:

  • Braes High School, Falkirk
  • Glenalmond College, Perth
  • Kirkcudbright Academy, Kirkcudbright
  • Stewart’s Melville College, Edinburgh

Also taking part in a debate on the floor of the Chamber are students from The Glasgow Academy, Dunfermline High School, All Saints RC Secondary School, Glasgow, Craigmount High School, Edinburgh and St Mary’s Music School, Edinburgh.

Presiding Officer Tricia Marwick MSP said:

“Encouraging Scotland’s young people into the political process is a key aim of the Scottish Parliament, and it will be wonderful to look out on a sea of young faces in the Debating Chamber. I look forward to presiding over a fascinating evening as our finalists debate the benefits of youth versus experience.”

Heather McPhee, the Law Society of Scotland’s education and training development officer, added:

“The ability to make a well-reasoned argument is vital in all spheres of life and the young people here tonight have already demonstrated their skills of advocacy and debate. Whether it’s in parliament or a local community council, these skills will stand Scotland’s future citizens in good stead.”

The winning school will receive a trophy and prize of £1,000, donated by the Law Society of Scotland, and the runners up will receive £250, donated by the Glasgow Bar Association. Publishers Hodder Gibson, who sponsor the tournament along with Simpson Marwick solicitors, will also donate educational books to the value of £500 to be shared between the four finalist teams.

The judges for the event are:

  • Mark McDonald MSP
  • Mrs Irene McGrath, Chair of the Scottish Schools International Debating Council 
  • Jon Dye, Former Chairman, English Speaking Union Scotland
  • Neil Stevenson, Trustee of the English Speaking Union
  • Janette Harkess, Director of Policy and Research, Scottish Council for Development and Industry

Notes to editors:

Open to all secondary schools across Scotland, the tournament has become 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.

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