Pupils from schools across Scotland are preparing to debate the motion that ‘monuments to controversial figures should be removed’ when they take to the floor in the opening rounds of the Donald Dewar Memorial Debating tournament.
Now in its 19th year the Law Society of Scotland’s annual debating tournament is the largest schools debating tournament in Scotland. 128 teams from 98 Scottish schools will take part in the opening rounds of the 2017/18 competition and 21 schools will compete for the first time.
Heather McKendrick, head of careers and outreach at the Law Society, said: “Young people in Scotland characteristically show impressive levels of political awareness and democratic engagement.
“The right to free speech is a key component of our political culture and we relish the opportunity to learn from historical difficulties, ‘Lest we forget’ being a topical example. .So we’ve set our teams a real challenge by asking them to debate whether ‘monuments to controversial figures should be removed’. I am intrigued to hear the views for and against.
“Debating is a hugely rewarding experience helping young people to gain confidence and develop their analytical thinking. Not to mention the fact that it’s great fun.
“It’s fantastic to have so many schools taking part, 21 of whom are first time competitors in the tournament. We’re also delighted to have a brand new sponsor, TC Young on board and welcome back Hodder Gibson, who have been long term supporters and sponsors of the debate.
“Last year’s tournament came to an exciting conclusion in the Scottish Parliament’s debating chamber where we enjoyed outstanding performances from some very talented young people. Last year they debated whether smokers should be denied the right to free healthcare and I’m looking forward to this year’s final already.
“On another note, we are always on the lookout for people with experience or an interest in debating to act as judges. I can guarantee a really interesting and enjoyable experience.”
The opening rounds take place on 16, 23 and 28 November with further heats early next year and semi-finals in the spring. The winning team will win £1,000 for their school from the Law Society of Scotland.