Sandwick School won through to the second round of the Donald Dewar Memorial Debate held in Inverness Royal Academy last Thursday.
The debating duo of Saibh Finlayson and Ceidiog Saxelby were one of the teams to emerge victorious in the first round of the competition. Together with pupils from Gordonstoun School, they defeated two teams from the Inverness area, Milburn Academy and the host side, Inverness Royal Academy. In their case, they successfully argued against the motion “That This House Believes That Britain Would Be Better Off Out Of The European Union”. Accompanied to the competition by their teachers, Yvonne Malcolmson and Donald Murray, the pair argued with their usual wit, style and knowledge, showing why – together with Joe Christie – they won the HIE Green Debate Competition last session.
In what was a very entertaining evening, the two encountered a wide range of contributions and queries. These included an interesting observation about the appearance of a deadly tarantula spider in a banana box at a local Tesco store and Ceidiog’s attempt to answer the Monty Python-type question, “What did the Treaty of Rome ever do for us?” In the course of the event, both pupils proved to be among the strongest performers in this heat of the competition.
The school would like to thank all who helped them on their way. This included many local individuals including Alistair Cooper, Hansen Black and Jim Budge (councillor), Alastair Carmichael MP and even – through their headquarters – the staff of UKIP.
Stuart Clubb, head teacher of Sandwick School, said: “I am absolutely delighted at this success for the school, staff and pupils. There is no doubt that Saibh and Ceidiog represent what is best about both the Shetland educational system and the Shetland community as a whole. They complement each other, co-operating at all times and working as a team. They draw strength too from others in the community. We are grateful for all their support.”
The school is delighted, too, to acknowledge Stephen Renwick and “Determined To Succeed” for their help in funding travel costs to and from the competition. Saibh and Ceidiog now go on to the second round where they will take on some of the elite schools of Scottish education. Their opponents are likely to include pupils who are a few years older than them and from such establishments as Dollar Academy, Glenalmond College and Lenzie Academy as well as many of the larger schools in the central belt.
Clearly, this is an extremely challenging yet worthwhile endeavour. It allows two of Shetland’s pupils to take on the quick wits and intelligence of some of Scotland’s brightest young people in one of the nation’s most esteemed competitions. The celebrated names of the schools involved in the Donald Dewar Memorial Debate underlines both its influence and importance.
The staff and pupils of Sandwick Junior High School would be grateful for any support – financial and otherwise – that will enable the school to continue taking part both in the next round and in similar events of this kind, developing further the tradition of democratic debate both within Sandwick School and Shetland as a whole.