School pupils battle it out at debating competition
24th March 2016
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Students from many local schools came together for a debating competition on Saturday the 5th of March as part of a new project set up by a trainee solicitor at Shropshire law firm Lanyon Bowdler Solicitors.

Holly Edwards from Lanyon Bowdler created the Debate-Ed programme in September 2015 for sixth form students to mentor school pupils with the goal of developing important debating and presenting skills.

The competition took place at Shrewsbury Sixth Form College and students from Adams Grammar School, Meole Brace and Prestfelde School were involved.

A team from Adams Grammar School were the final winners and were presented with a trophy donated by Lanyon Bowdler Solicitors, who had sponsored the programme and provided support and resources towards its development.

Judge Jim Tindal and Shrewsbury’s Mayor, Councillor Miles Kenny, were both judges for the competition and gave the children taking part words of encouragement. Shrewsbury and Atcham MP, Daniel Kawczynski, gave the students advice and tips and members of staff from Lanyon Bowdler also provided generous support.

After four rounds of debating, the topical final, discussing whether the Government should introduce a sugar tax, was held in the main hall of Shrewsbury Sixth Form College in front of more than 50 people.

Holly said the project had been a great success: “A huge well done to everyone who took part, impressing the judges with their critical thinking and speaking skills.

“Giving students the opportunity to talk about interesting topics over a number of sessions has really helped build their confidence and encouraged them to think more deeply about current issues in the world.”

Judge Jim Tindal praised the students’ debating skills, saying: “Everyone who participated in this competition has reason to feel proud.

“The quality of debating was very high, remarkably so with some of the younger competitors. And some of the best debaters would be capable of conducting a simple court trial now. They were that good.”

In total, more than 100 pupils have participated in the Debate-Ed workshops.

Holly added: “We have had some great feedback from the pupils. Debating skills are very important for a law career, but whatever job you do, the ability to be analytical and see things from different points of view is hugely useful.

“I used to do debating at university and was part of the Debate Mate programme, which runs debating sessions with schools in big cities across the UK.

“When I came back to Shropshire, I was keen to set something up with schools here, and approached Shrewsbury Sixth Form College with the idea of some students becoming mentors and it’s gone from there.”

Holly said the Debate-ed programme was looking to recruit more mentors to teach sessions at their local secondary schools from May.

Lanyon Bowdler partner Kay Kelly, who was also a judge, said the law firm was pleased to have supported Holly through the development of the project.

“I felt very proud in the fact Lanyon Bowdler is contributing to the education and development of some of the local younger generation,” she said. “Hopefully we will benefit from some of them using us for legal services in years to come.”

For more information about the programme, visit the website or connect on Twitter.

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