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Edinburgh University Schools Debating Competition

On Wednesday 26th February, Andrew Fry (S5) and Graeme McKenzie (S4) represented Menzieshill High School at this competition at the Pleasance in Edinburgh.  44 teams from across Scotland competed in a British Parliamentary style debate, each team participating in 3 rounds and then the four top-scoring teams went through to the final.

This was a very challenging event as no advance notice of the topics was given and in each round teams therefore had only 15 minutes to prepare their speeches and they were not allowed access to any electronic or online sources of information. To make it even more challenging, there were two teams on each side of the debate but while neither had advance notice of what the other team would say they had to fit in with and support the other team’s arguments.  The debate topics included “This house would give doctors, not parents, the final say on medical treatments concerning children” and “This house would legalise the use of torture to extract information needed for national security” so our debaters were being asked to consider and speak about some really demanding ethical issues.

Andrew and Graeme acquitted themselves very well, especially as a high proportion of the other teams were from independent schools and several of them had their own debating coaches (although no adults were allowed to be present during the preparation time for the debates). Both Andrew and Graeme were given a lot of positive feedback from the judges as well as pointers as to how to improve for the next time. All the advice from the judges about how to debate well will be shared with the Debating Club so we hope it will benefit all the school’s teams.

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