Top students have the final say in debate

Bearsden Academy debating teaml
Bearsden Academy debating teaml

A TEAM of six Bearsden Academy students have won the regional finals of a top debating competition sponsored by the Medical Research Council.

The students, Ross Greer, Katie Hart, Elise McCaig, Ciaran Harkness, Dougie Morton and Anna McDonald were up against a tough field of five other schools - including Douglas Academy - at The Scotland and Northern Ireland Regional Final of the Institute of Ideas Debating Matters Competition at the University of Edinburgh last week.

The school received £500 worth of Hodder Education books for its library, and each of the team won a one-year subscription to Britannica Online, a £20 Amazon gift voucher and six copies each of Oxford University Press’ Very Short Introductions to . . . books.


The students have now secured their place at the prestigious National Final in July.

Dubbed the toughest debating competition in the UK, with substance more important than style, the students had to think on their feet as they responded to tough questioning from a panel of three expert judges.

With impressive individual performances from all the team on debates that included ‘Olympics: the greatest show on earth is worth it’ and ‘We should introduce a system of presumed consent in organ donation’, the school managed to secure a place in the final against Antrim Grammar School from Northern Ireland.

In the final debate, which asked whether social media is rejuvenating politics, judges Professor Ian Jackson, head of medical and developmental genetics at the Medical Research Council, Seonag Mackinnon, education correspondent for BBC Scotland, and Penny Lewis from Scott Sutherland School of Architecture at Robert Gordon University in Aberdeen, underlined how impressed they were with the strength of arguments.

In addition to winning the top spot, Ross Greer, Ciaran Harkness and Dougie Morton won prestigious individual prizes.

Ross said: “The way that we debate for Debating Matters allows you to delve deeper in to the issues. The back and forward with the judges has been fantastic.”

The students will now head off to London for the three-day Debating Matters National Final in London in July,

Professor Jackson said: “I was taken aback by how eloquent the students are. They are debating the issues that are really shaping the world – and doing it extremely well!”