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Thurso pupils through to the national debating semi-final


By Jean Gunn


Thurso High School pupils Ross Dunbar (left) and Aidan Urquhart have made it through to the semi-final of the Law Society's annual debating tournament for the second year running.
Thurso High School pupils Ross Dunbar (left) and Aidan Urquhart have made it through to the semi-final of the Law Society's annual debating tournament for the second year running.

TWO Thurso High School pupils fought off stiff competition to make it through to the semi-final stage of the Law Society's annual debating tournament.

This is the second time that sixth-year students Aidan Urquhart and Ross Dunbar have reached the penultimate round of the national competition.

Thurso High School English teacher Alexis Wallace said: "This is the fourth time our Thurso High team has made the semi-final of the Law Society competition and we are really proud of them for this.

"We had the opportunity this year to host the first round of the competition and had an excellent turnout. We were delighted that Farr High also entered – more debating in the north.

"Aidan has been a real ambassador for debating. He entered the ESU [English-Speaking Union] debating competition this year by himself – and won! This is a major achievement as he had to learn a whole new format and style of debating.

"He had the opportunity in that competition to debate in the Scottish Parliament, which is where the finals of the Law Society competition take place."

The Thurso High debating club meets most Tuesdays after school.

The number of schools still in the running to win the Law Society’s annual debating tournament has been whittled down to 16 following the second-round heats of the competition.

A total of 32 school teams put forward their arguments to the motion This House Would Privatise the BBC in an attempt to secure a place in the semi-final stage. These teams reached the second-round heat having successfully argued the motion This House Would Introduce Compulsory National Civic Service for all 15 and 16-year-olds at the first stage.

Lyndsey Thomson, careers and outreach coordinator at the Law Society, said: “The high standards of debating that we saw at the opening stage were again demonstrated by the teams. With each stage the tension builds, presenting an increased challenge for the teams to contend with.

"The pressure will be on for the semi-final, particularly as the teams only get sight of the motion an hour before the debate, with a total ban on access to newspapers, computers or smartphones. It will be a real test of their general knowledge, quick thinking and powers of persuasion.”

The semi-finalists are Albyn School; Balfron High School; Banchory Academy; Biggar High School; Broxburn Academy; Douglas Academy; Duncanrig Secondary School; Fortrose Academy; Holy Cross High School; Our Lady and St Patrick’s High School; Peebles High School; the Royal High School; Thurso High School; St Andrew’s Academy; St Columba’s RC High School; and Wellington School.

Now in its 21st year, the Donald Dewar Memorial Debating Tournament is open to all schools throughout Scotland and sees nationwide participation.

The semi-final will be held in March, with the final scheduled for June. A prize of £1000 is awarded by the Law Society to the winners and the top two teams will share educational books to the value of £500 donated by the event sponsor, Hodder Gibson.



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