Senior pupils at Douglas Academy, Milngavie triumph in international debate contest

A group of senior pupils at Douglas Academy in Milngavie have triumphed in a prestigious international debating contest.

Douglas Academy

The S5 and S6 debaters won the inaugural GB-India Debating Matters Competition, defeating a team from Salt Lake, Kolkata in the final.

Raj Bhaumik, Eoghan Connolly, Maeve Connolly, Imogen Milling, Tom Milling and Adam Nicolson were crowned champs of the international event, impressing judges with their well-researched arguments and passionate delivery.

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Debating Matters is a well-established annual competition that reinvented itself this year in response to the challenges of the pandemic as a virtual event featuring young teams from Great Britain and India.

This year's success builds on an impressive record of achievement for Douglas Academy teams over the years at the more traditional Debating Matters competitions:

· They won the Scotland and Northern Ireland finals each year from2013-2016.

· They have reached the UK semi-finals three times.

· In 2015, they took the runners-up spot· They won the STV televised Debating Matters Scottish IndependenceReferendum competition in 2014.

The route to victory in the 2021 virtual debate saw the team debate topics in the group stages as diverse as compulsory childhood vaccinations, populist threats to democracy and restricting families to two children.

In the semi-final they debated advances in Artificial Intelligence and, in a closely fought final against Our Lady Queen of the Missions, Salt Lake, Kolkata, the debate was around the sacrificing of freedom in response to Covid-19.

Headteacher Barry Smedley said, "We are very proud of this team, rising to the challenges of this very demanding contest which is widely regarded as one of the toughest debating competitions.

"One of its unique features is that as well as arguing against opposing debaters, teams have to respond to a series of challenging questions by a panel of judges.

"They all performed brilliantly, working together as a team and it was an added bonus that Maeve Connolly was awarded the competition?s best individual speaker award with Tom Milling being highly commended."

Competition organiser, Tony Gilland said: "Though the Indian teams dominated numerically, and were very impressive, the debaters from Douglas Academy were inspiring throughout.

"Well researched and passionate, the Douglas debaters edged successive victories by reflecting on the challenges put to them by the judging panels and coming back with carefully considered and persuasive arguments. They are a credit to their school and country."

Joint Council Leader, Andrew Polson added, "As a former pupil of Douglas Academy it's with great pride that I offer my congratulations to these talented young people who have put their school well and truly on the map with this international success.

"Each of them made an invaluable contribution to the team effort to win through a number of difficult stages and onto the grand final.

"What a wonderful experience for them to meet and debate with people from around the country and India."

Joint Council Leader, Vaughan Moody added, "I am delighted that theDebating Matters competition was able to be redesigned to take account of the covid situation so that young people were still able to take part.

"Well done to the organisers for their innovative thinking. Debating seems to be in the DNA of Douglas Academy and this is another remarkable achievement to add to their growing roll of honour."