School pupils battle their way into debate tournament semi-finals

School pupils battle their way into debate tournament semi-finals

School pupils have won through to the semi-finals of the Law Society of Scotland’s national debating tournament after arguing the cases for and against the removal of immigration controls.

Of the 128 teams that entered the Donald Dewar Memorial Debating Tournament, 16 teams from schools across Scotland are now preparing to take part in the semi-finals after debating the motion “This House would abolish all immigration controls” in the second round heats.

97 Scottish schools pit their wits against each other in the opening rounds of the competition as they debated the pros and cons of EU membership.

The second round prompted dynamic discussion from the 64 remaining teams but the semi-finals step the competition up a notch as the students are only presented with the motion an hour before the debate takes place.

Heather McKendrick, careers and outreach manager at the Law Society, said: “The semi-finals are very tricky as the teams have just one hour to prepare after receiving the motion. They are not permitted access to any newspapers, computers or smartphones during that time. It really tests their skills as debaters.

“We’ve had a fantastic start to this year’s Donald Dewar Debating Tournament and all of the pupils have done really well to get this far, especially those from schools taking part for the first time. I’m looking forward to seeing how the teams think on their feet in the semi-finals.”

The semi-finals of the competition take place over the next few weeks starting tonight. The final will take place in Edinburgh in June.

The Law Society awards the first prize of £1,000 and the top two teams will share educational books to the value of £500 donated by the event sponsor, Hodder Gibson.

Further information and a Law Society video about the tournament featuring the 2013/14 winners and runners up can be found at

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