The 2018/19 Donald Dewar Memorial Debating Tournament ended in exceptional style in the Debating Chamber of the Scottish Parliament on Thursday 6 June. Matthew Burton and Michael Dunn, from Bearsden Academy, were crowned tournament winners after opposing the motion ‘This House believes that the Scottish Parliament should have an appointed second chamber' against St Margaret's School for Girls.


Pictured left to right:  Michael Dunn and Matthew Burton

Balfron High School's Andrew Spence and Julia Anderson came a close second after proposing opponents from St Andrew's Academy and were awarded the runners-up prize.

Congratulations also go to Sarah Mackay and Jessica McClure, St Margaret's School for Girls, and Kate Quinn and Lucy Halliday, St Andrew's Academy, who also battled their way through earlier rounds to compete in the finals. 

Pictured from left to right, Back row :  Rosie Howie, Sarah McWhirter, Victoria Lane, Andrew McPake, Ash Denham MSP, Isabel Ewing, Ken Macintosh MSP, John Mulholland, President, Law Society of Scotland, Jim Bauld and Jennifer Gallagher.  Front row:  Kate Quinn and Lucy Halliday (St Andrews's Academy), representatives from Bearsden Academy, Matthew Spence and Julia Anderson (Balfron High School), Sarah MacKay and Jessica McClure (St Margaret's School for Girls).

Pupils from our finalist schools as well as Balwearie High School, The Community School of Auchterarder, Peebles High School, Inverkeithing High School and St Andrew’s & St Bride’s High School were given the opportunity to attend educational workshops offered by the Scottish Parliament's Events Team before taking part in the floor debates during which Harry Mackle from St Andrew's & St Bride's High School and Mhairi Kinahan from Peebles High School were awarded a £50 book token each for the best floor speeches.

Presiding Officer, Ken Macintosh MSP, said: “I am always so impressed by the effort that pupils put into this event and this year was no different. It was inspiring to listen to the young people who articulated their arguments extremely well and proved themselves to be skilled debaters. All the young people put on an outstanding performance but particular congratulations to Matthew and Michael from Bearsden Academy!”

Law firm TC Young (represented on the evening by Isabel Ewing, pictured above) and publishers Hodder Gibson (represented by Rosie Howie, pictured above) sponsored the event. Matthew and Michael were presented with the tournament trophy and £1,000 for their school from the Law Society. Runners up, Balfron High School, received £250 from the Glasgow Bar Association. All finalists received book tokens and individual quaichs to commemorate their success and tournament sponsors, Hodder Gibson Publishers, donated educational books to the value of £500, to be shared by the winners and runners-up.

Read the full press release here.




Motions debated in previous rounds included:
  • 'This House believes that Google does more harm than good.
  • ‘This House would abolish the National Living Wage.’
  • ‘This House regrets the #MeToo movement'
Judging the final were:
  • Sarah McWhirter, Presiding (Slater & Gordon)
  • Victoria Lane (Brodies),
  • Andrew McPake (Craigmount High School),
  • Jennifer Gallagher (Lindsays)
  • Jim Bauld (Glasgow Bar Association / TC Young)
  • Ash Denham MSP

Whether you are experienced or new to debating, get involved with Scotland's biggest high school debating competition today and help us celebrate it's 20th anniversary while learning and developing new skills!  David Blair, past participant and now a judge in the tournament, explains how being involved has helped him in his role as a solicitor:

How the debate works

Learn about the Donald Dewar Memorial Debating Tournament format, rules and timescales.

Information for teams

Find out how to enter a team for the debate and read case studies from past competitors.

Information for judges

Whether you're a law student, a trainee, a practicing or retired solicitor or just love debating, we'd love to hear from you!