Faculty hosts schoolchildren competing in Schools Mace finals at Parliament House

10 Feb

Emma Boffey, Clerk of the Faculty Barney Ross, Emma Crow, Emma Bell, Treasurer of Faculty Ruth Crawford KC, Faculty Director of Training and Education Hugh Olson and Bilaal Shabbir.

SCHOOLCHILDREN, teachers, parents and Faculty members gathered in Parliament House last weekend for a lively day of debating during the finals of the Young Speakers Scotland’s Schools Mace competition. 

Young Speakers Scotland is an educational charity that aims to use debating and public speaking to help young people realise their potential. In total 22 schools across Scotland took part in the preliminary rounds of its Schools Mace competition in October and November last year, with the best-performing schools qualifying for the final, which was hosted by the Faculty of Advocates.

Barney Ross, Clerk of the Faculty of Advocates, welcomed all the participants. “The ability to analyse a case, craft a persuasive argument and then present it in public with passion and eloquence is a great life skill for young people to develop.

"Faculty is delighted to support Young Speakers Scotland in their work to bring debating and public speaking to schools across the country in a way which strongly promotes inclusion and diversity. We believe that hosting this debating competition, here in the Court of Session, is a fantastic way for us to engage with, and hopefully inspire, the next generation of advocates.”

The four teams competing for a place in the UK finals were Broxburn Academy, High School of Glasgow, and two teams from St Columba’s School. The winners were Emma Crow and Emma Bell from Broxburn Academy, and the runners-up were the St Columba's team of Callum Hendry and Sophie Hannigan. The finals were judged by The Hon. Lady Haldane together with John McKee and Cameron Wyllie, both former Scottish National Debating Team coaches. Lady Haldane congratulated the winners, remarking that the level of debating throughout the day had been consistently high.

The schoolchildren taking part in the finals were also able to watch a demonstration of a plea in mitigation in court, with the Treasurer of the Faculty of Advocates, Ruth Crawford KC, taking the role of the judge while advocate Emma Boffey and devil Bilaal Shabbir acted as opposing counsel. Hugh Olson, Director of Training and Education at the Faculty of Advocates, addressed the schoolchildren after the demonstration and said: “The demonstration today is typical of what happens daily in court, and demands the ability to deliver a persuasive argument. If you would like to take your debating skills further and are considering coming to the Bar, this is a rewarding and satisfying career.”

"The Schools Mace is the oldest school debating competition in Scotland. It was wonderful to these talented young debaters getting a chance to speak at the Faculty of Advocates, particularly after several years of online debating,” said Jordan Pfotenhauer, Programmes Director at Young Speakers Scotland. “Congratulations to all the speakers who took part; you have bright futures ahead of you!"

The following schools entered the Schools Mace: Edinburgh Academy, Douglas Academy, George Heriot's School, Craigmount High School, Kelvinside Academy, St Columba's, Portobello High School, The High School of Glasgow, Broxburn Academy, Gordonstoun, Balfron High School, Aberdeen Grammar School, Robert Gordon's College, Banchory Academy, St Leonard's School, Denny High School, The High School of Dundee, Strathallan School, Tynecastle High School, Hutcheson's Grammar School, Wellington Grammar School and Mearn's Castle.