European Lifestyle is up for Debate in Law Society Tournament Final

The top four debating teams from Scottish schools will pit their wits against each other to debate the motion “This House Believes that the European Way of Life Is Preferable to the American Dreamat the Scottish Parliament today (Thursday 17 June).

The four teams, which saw off competition from over 120 teams from around Scotland, to reach the final of this year’s Law Society of Scotland Donald Dewar Debating Tournament, are:

* Adam Brand and Gavin Todd, Craigmount High School, Edinburgh 
* Jenny House and Ujani Basu, St Margaret’s School for Girls, Aberdeen
* Michael Weir and Miriam Malek, Madras College, St Andrews 
* Oscar Lee and Seamus McGuigan, Glasgow Academy

This year the Society teamed up with the Scottish European Educational Trust to engage the schools in issues relating to Europe.

Heather McPhee, the Society’s education and training development officer, said: “This year we have been working with our key partner, the Scottish European Educational Trust, to debate motions relating to Europe. We’re delighted that through this partnership we’ve been able to bring issues relating to Europe to the fore.

“It’s something that the pupils themselves have been enthusiastic about and I’m looking forward to hear what their thoughts are on the European way of life in tonight’s final.”

Barbara Macleod, national organiser of the Scottish European Educational Trust, said: “Empowering young people with information can give them more confidence to articulate their thoughts, opinions and feelings. The Donald Dewar Memorial Debating Tournament gives young people an opportunity to equip themselves with skills that can help them in lots of different ways throughout their lives. It’s great that so many teams signed up to take part this year from all over the country and we wish all the finalists the best of luck.”

Deputy Presiding Officer Trish Godman, who will chair the debate, said:

“Since the establishment of the Scottish Parliament in 1999 it has been crucially important to give young people as many opportunities to engage with what is essentially their Parliament.

“The Dewar Debate provides an opportunity for them to express their views and to test their debating skills in the main chamber. With more than 128 teams taking part at the beginning of the competition from all corners of Scotland, it is a real achievement for the four finalists to have come this far and I look forward to what promises to be a lively and topical debate.

“Since our establishment in 1999, the voice of Scotland's young people has been vital to Holyrood and we aim to ensure that there continues to be many relevant and innovative ways in which young people can engage with their Parliament.”

The judges for the event will be:

-          Gerald Wilson, Chairman of the Scottish European Educational Trust;

-          Neil Stevenson, Trustee of the English Speaking Union;

-          Irene McGrath, Chairwoman of the Scottish Schools International Debating Council;

-          Jon Dye, former Chairman, English Speaking Union;

-          Michael Matheson MSP, Deputy Convener of the European and External Relations Committee.

Deputy Presiding Officer Trish Godman MSP will chair the debate.

The winning team will be awarded £1,000 for their school and the tournament trophy. The tournament is also sponsored by Simpson and Marwick solicitors, Hodder Gibson publishers and the Glasgow Bar Association donates the second prize of £250 to the runner up school.

Contact: Suzy Powell or Heather McPhee
Phone: 0131 476 8115 or 0131 476 8203