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Aberdeen pupils win national debating tournament

14 June 2013 | tagged News release

Pupils from Robert Gordon's College have been awarded the accolade as Scotland's finest young debaters after winning the final of the Law Society of Scotland's Donald Dewar Memorial Debating Tournament.

Tom Sanders and Morag Forbes debated the motion 'This House believes that the internet encourages democracy' on Thursday evening, 13 June, in the Scottish Parliament's main chamber.

Simon Boendermaker and Marcus Buist from Glenalmond College in Perthshire were runners-up. Also competing in the final were Caitlin Sutherland and Shannon Russell from St Margaret's Academy, West Lothian, and Iona Bonaventura and Lydia Reilly from Kirkcudbright Academy, Dumfries and Galloway

The four teams in the final were also joined by pupils from all across Scotland who took part in earlier heats, for a floor debate on the role of the internet in society.

Lorna Jack, Chief Executive of the Law Society of Scotland, said: "I want to congratulate Tom and Morag for their excellent performance - it really was outstanding. Many congratulations must also go to the three other teams in the final. Getting to this point is a fantastic achievement, particularly when you consider that there were 128 teams in the opening rounds of this year's tournament. All of our finalists should feel very proud.

"It is a real thrill and an honour for us to host the tournament final in the Debating Chamber of the Scottish Parliament for what was a very lively and topical debate. This is the seventh year we have been able to do so and I would like to thank the Deputy Presiding Officer, John Scott MSP, for doing an excellent job in presiding over the final. Thanks too, go to our judges who had the very tough challenge of selecting the winning team."

Heather McKendrick, the Law Society's education and training development officer, said: "It has been a fantastic tournament once again and all the teams who have reached the final are to be congratulated.

"Each of the teams presented articulate and convincing arguments both for and against whether the internet encourages democracy. Using the internet and social media has fast become a daily part of our lives and I'm sure that everyone who attended found the debates interesting and thought-provoking."

Pupils from 13 of the schools that entered the tournament this year were among the audience for the final and took part in a floor debate. Craigclowan Preparatory School pupil Jonny Boyd was awarded the prize for his contributions during the floor debate.

This year, 128 teams from across Scotland tested their debating skills during a series of knock out heats on subjects including the banning of extremist political parties and the introduction of a 100% inheritance tax.


Note to editors:

Established in 1999, the Donald Dewar Memorial Debating Tournament is the largest annual school debating tournament and open to pupils in all Scottish secondary schools.

The winning school was awarded a trophy and prize of £1,000 from the Law Society of Scotland. Runners-up received £250, donated by the Glasgow Bar association. All finalists were awarded individual quaiches and certificates and sponsors Hodder Gibson Publishers donated educational books to the value of £500, to be shared by the winning and runner-up school.

The four teams in this year's final were:

  • St Margaret's Academy, West Lothian - Caitlin Sutherland and Shannon Russell
  • Kirkcudbright Academy, Dumfries and Galloway - Iona Bonaventura and Lydia Reilly
  • Glenalmond College, Perthshire - Simon Boendermaker and Marcus Buist
  • Robert Gordon's College, Aberdeen - Tom Sanders and Morag Forbes

Schools attending to take part in a floor debate were:

  • Craigmount High, Edinburgh
  • The Glasgow Academy, Glasgow
  • The High School of Dundee, Dundee
  • Lanark Grammar School, South Lanarkshire
  • Linwood High, Renfrewshire
  • Menzieshill High School, Dundee
  • St Aloysius' College, Glasgow
  • St Mary's Music School, Edinburgh
  • Trinity High, Renfrewshire

The judges were:

  • Jon Dye, former Chairman of the English Speaking Union (Presiding Judge).
  • Irene McGrath, Chair of the Scottish Schools International Debating Council
  • Neil Stevenson, former trustee of the English Speaking Union
  • Aissa Watson, former Head of Speech and Debate at the English Speaking Union
  • Adam McKinlay, Coach of the Scotland team, World Schools Debating Championships


Please contact Val McEwan on 0131 226 8884 / 07825 206468.

14 June 2013

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