The 2016/2017 tournament - Douglas Academy are crowned winners!

Congratulations to Arun Smith and Mathew McIlree from Douglas Academy (pictured below with Ken MacIntosh MSP, Presiding Officer, Andrew Stevenson, Glasgow Bar Association, amd Graham Matthews, President of the Law Society of Scotland) who were crowned Scotland’s best young debaters after winning the final of the Donald Dewar Memorial Debating Tournament 2016/17.

The grand final of our 18th competition took place on the evening of Thursday 15 June 2017 in the debating chamber of the Scottish Parliament where the audience and judges witnessed two fantastic debates of a very high standard.

An enormous well done also goes to our runners up from the High School of Dundee, as well as our other finallist schools Kelvinside Academy and Madras College.


Front row, left to right Matthew McIlree and Arun Smith from Douglas Academy, winners of the Dewar Debate 2016/17, Angel Loi from Lanark Grammar School, winner of the best floor speech, Mahee Mustafa and Honor Johnstone from Kelvinside Academy, Ivan Kapelyukh and Steven Roy from The High School of Dundee, runners up and Lawrence Brown and Ewan Redpath from Madras College

Back row, left to right, Jon Dye (Past Chairman English Speaking union Scotland), Victoria Lane (Brodies), Adam McKinlay (Brodies), Sarah McWhirter (Slater & Gordon), Andrew Stevenson (Glasgow Bar Association), Graham Matthews (President of The Law Society of Scotland), Andrew McPake (teacher of English, Craigmount High School) Ken MacIntosh MSP (Presiding Officer) Bill Bowman MSP

Round one

November 2016 saw 128 teams enter the first round of the competition from 85 different schools across Scotland, all competing to debate the motion 'This House would ban referendums'.

Round two

62 teams competed in the second round of the competition in January 2017. This round followed the same format as the first, but with just one school going through to the semi-finals from a heat of four competitors. The motion this round was 'This house would permit the use of performance enhancing drugs in professional sports'.

Semi finals

The semi-finals are always a tricky test of our debaters' true skills, as the motion remains unseen until an hour before the debate takes place. Competitors are not permitted to use any materials or devices during this round, including phones, books, computers or newspapers.

To preserve the anonymity of the motions until an hour before, each of the four semi-final heats sees teams debating a different topic, which in the 2016/17 competition were:

  • This house would prioritise public safety over the right to strike
  • This house believes that the state should fully compensate the victims of crimes committed by reoffenders
  • This house would punish parents for the crimes of their children
  • This house regrets the rise of social media as the primary source of news distribution

The final

The final in 2016/17 was hosted on the 15 June 2017 at the Scottish Parliament in the prestigious debating chamber. Our four teams were judged by an expert panel, with the proceedings overseen by Presiding Officer Ken MacIntosh (MSP).

The finalists, in a highly-charged and impressively skilled performance, debated the motion 'This House would deny smokers free access to healthcare'.

Winners: Douglas Academy (Arun Smith and Matthew McIlree)
Runners Up: High School of Dundee (Ivan Kapelyukh and Steven Roy)
Finallists: Kelvinside Academy (Honor Johnstone and Mahee Mustafa) and Madras College (Lawrence Brown and Ewan Redpath)

Best Floor Speech:  Lanark Grammar School (Angel Loi)


Read the full press release from the final and check out photos from the event!