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Quick-thinking Fortrose Academy pupils on Black Isle talk their way into final of prestigious Law Society of Scotland Dewar Debate competition


By Hector MacKenzie

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Edie Matthewson and Thomas Fox.
Edie Matthewson and Thomas Fox.

TALENTED debaters from a Black Isle school have shown they have a real gift for the gab after making the final of a national contest once again.

Edie Matthewson and Thomas Fox, from Fortrose Academy, have reached the grand final of the Law Society of Scotland’s annual national schools debating competition, after a nail-biting semi-final.

The S6 pupils won over the judges in their semi-final heat, with their arguments on the unseen motion, “This House would abolish prison for all but violent criminals”.

And the academy’s impressed staff said that their achievement was all the more remarkable, because they were only given the motion one hour before the debate started, and had to prepare their arguments without the help of technology, books, newspapers or other external sources.

They will now battle it out to be crowned national debating champions against the other finalists from Douglas Academy in East Dunbartonshire, Peebles High School in the Borders, and the Royal High School in Edinburgh.

“Their skills in researching, analysing, listening and refuting have greatly developed, and I am so proud of their achievements,” said Karen Meikle, debate coach and English teacher.

“They also had to cope with the challenge of virtual debating! It is so important to hear young people’s voices and opinions and debating is a life skill.”

The Dewar Debate, now in its 22nd year, is the biggest competition of its kind in Scotland, with 64 teams from schools across the country entering the tournament in September. For the first time, the tournament has taken place entirely online, due to the coronavirus pandemic. The grand final will take place online on June 10.

The winners will be awarded £1000 for their school, with the runners-up getting £250. The top two schools will also share educational books worth £500, while the best floor speech will win a £50 book token.


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