ESU Juniors’ Debating Competition
In September 2000, ESU Scotland launched the National
Juniors’ Debating Competition – the first ever
national schools debating competition for Scottish secondary school
students in years 1-3. The competition is now in its eighth year.
2010-11 ESU Juniors Debating Competition
On June 8th, pupils and supporters gathered at the Scottish Parliament for the final debate of one of ESU Scotland's largest Juniors
competitions to date, with 128 teams from across Scotland competing for a place in the final. After three rounds of high quality debate,
Merchiston Castle School (Edinburgh), George Watson's College (Edinburgh), Grange Academy (Kilmarnock) and Robert Gordon's College
(Aberdeen) were the four finalists, debating the motion 'This house believes Scotland should be independent from the United Kingdom'.
After an excellent debate, Maura Buchanan and Morag Forbes, from first proposition, emerged unanimously as the judges' favourites to win
the competition for Robert Gordon's College for the first time.
The evidence of the growing strength of Scottish schools debating is most encouraging, and owes not
a little to the success of the Debates Outreach Projects that ESU Scotland has been running since 2005. Many of
the teams now taking part in debating competitions have come through Outreach Projects.
For details of next year's competition, please
ESU Schools Mace
ESU Scotland also assists in running the ESU Schools Mace, a
competition organised by the Centre for Speech and Debate based at the
English-Speaking Union in London. This competition is primarily for older secondary school
students (although there is no lower age limit) and is entered by more
than 400 teams throughout England and Scotland each year.
2010-11 Schools Mace
Generously sponsored by
the Confucius Institute for Scotland.
The Final of the Scottish Schools’ Mace took place at the beautiful Playfair Library, part of Edinburgh
University’s Old College, on Wednesday 26th March - the culmination of six months of competition
involving 72 teams from across Scotland. The competition this year enjoyed very generous sponsorship
from the Confucius Institute, who sponsored the first round and also provided the venue and facilities
for the final. This is the second consecutive year that the Institute have sponsored ESU competitions,
and their continuing support is very much appreciated.
Despite December’s heavy snow doing its best to cause havoc with the timetabling, the competing
teams had made it through three tough rounds of debating to reach the final. The four final teams
were Stewart’s Melville College of Edinburgh, Dollar Academy of Clackmannanshire, Largs Academy
from Ayrshire and St. Margaret’s Academy of Livingston, and they met each other for two closely fought
debates. Stewart’s Melville and Dollar went head to head on the motion This House Would Abolish the
One Child policy in China, while Largs and St. Margaret’s debated the motion This House Believes China
should cut all ties to North Korea to encourage political change.
After two high quality debates, Dollar Academy emerged as the triumphant team in a unanimous
decision by the three judges – JP Murphy, Richard Wilkins and Ewan MacDonald. The two fifth year
pupils, Ruth Cameron and Calum Worsley, went on to represent Scotland in the International
Mace Final in Dublin on the 30th April.
Recent previous winners:
2009-10 – won by the High School of Dundee, beating Robert Gordon’s College, Madras College and George Heriot’s School in the final.
2008-9 – won by George Heriot’s School, beating competition from St. Columba’s, Abronhill High School and the High School of Dundee.
It was a second consecutive win for the Heriot’s team, which consisted of Hannah Mackaness and
ESU Vice-Presidents’ Cup
In 2009, ESU Scotland launched a new debating competition for schools that have taken part in our Debates
Outreach Project. The Vice-Presidents’ Cup is the only competition especially
for novice debaters from schools that have participated in our debates outreach
programme. Our Outreach work, which is generously funded by the Williams Trust,
the Robertson Trust and the MacRobert Trust, brings all of the fun and skills of debating
to schools and pupils that have never had this opportunity before, through workshops for
pupils and teachers all across Scotland. The 2010 Vice-Presidents’ Cup, which was delayed by the weather
until 28th January 2011, was an excellent opportunity to see the positive impact of debate on young people and all four speakers
confidently tackled the motion This House believes it is the responsibility of governments
not individuals to tackle the problem of global warming. Louise Reid and Ruth McQueeny
from Abronhill High School proposed the motion, with Alex Knox and William Farr from Belmont Academy opposing.
Both sides spoke very well, but in the end Abronhill managed to defend their previous title
and the judges awarded the trophy to Louise and Ruth.
St Andrew's Day Debating Tournament
The 4th St Andrew's Day National Debating Competition finally took place at the Scottish Parliament on
Monday 7th February, having been delayed by the snow last autumn. It was a fantastic day, with heats being
held all across the Parliament during the day, many of them in rooms not usually accessible to the public.
The final took place in the main Debating Chamber, which was an exciting opportunity for the young speakers
to address the audience and their fellow debaters from the MSP’s own seats. The motion for the final
was This House believes that the private sector should do more to solve child poverty and was hotly
contested by four teams made of university students and school pupils. The standard of debate
throughout the day and in the final was very high, and after fighting off tough competition the
winners were Ruth Cameron from Dollar Academy and Andrew Niven from Stewart’s Melville
College. Ross Mitchell from Glasgow University was awarded the prize for Best University
Speaker and Elliott Porter from Bearsden Academy won Best School Speaker.