Pupils from four secondary schools have won a place in the final of Scotland’s biggest schools’ debating competition after a battle of words this week.

The teams from Lenzie Academy, Peebles High School, Perth High School and Strathallan School saw off competitors from across the country in the semi-final of the Law Society of Scotland Donald Dewar Memorial Debating Tournament on Tuesday 20 March. They will now go through to the final in June.

Each of the 16 teams competing in the semi-final had just an hour to prepare to debate the motion ‘this house would introduce gender quotas for parliament’.

Lyndsey Thomson, careers and outreach coordinator at the Law Society of Scotland, said: "The semi-finals are very tricky as the teams have such a short time to prepare after receiving the debating motion. They are not permitted access to any newspapers, computers or smartphones during that time. It really tests their skills as debaters.

“The standard of our competitors seems to get higher and higher every year and all of our semi-finalists are to be congratulated. I’m very much looking forward to seeing our finalists take to the floor for the grand final which will be held in the Scottish Parliament debating chamber.”

A total of 128 teams took part in the opening rounds of the competition, pitting their wits against one another as they debated whether monuments to controversial figures should be removed. The second rounds saw the 64 remaining teams weigh up the ethical implications of democratic countries boycotting the 2018 World Cup in Russia, with just 16 going through to the semi final round this week.

Law firm TC Young and publishers Hodder Gibson are event sponsors, the Law Society awards the first prize of £1,000 and the runners up will receive £250 donated by the Glasgow Bar Association. The top two teams will share educational books to the value of £500 donated by Hodder Gibson.

Donald Dewar Memorial Debating Tournament

This year, our annual schools debating tournament will see 64 teams from across Scotland enter the first round, with just one team crowned the winner at the grand final.