About the Tournament 

This year, our annual schools debating tournament will see 64 teams from across Scotland enter the first round, with just one team crowned the winner at the grand final. Established in 1999, the Donald Dewar Memorial Debating tournament, run in conjunction with the 50th anniversary of the Society and dedicated to the memory of the former First Minister Donald Dewar MSP, is Scotland’s largest annual schools debating tournament.

We believe that debate promotes the following skills:

  • Analysis of a motion and identification of key issues, arguments and facts
  • Research - across a range of sources
  • Preparation of a logical, coherent, structured and factually supported argument
  • Preparation for questions and issues that may be raised by an opposing team, and being able to deal with those questions when they arise
  • Rebuttal
  • Summing up 'threads' of an argument from both sides of the debate (in summations speeches)
  • Confidence and presentation skills

Not only is this relevant to presenting a legal case and the skills that requires, but also to how that law is formed initially by parliamentarians and their advisors. We believe that active participation in democracy requires that the principles of debate be understood - to allow them to be applied in environments as diverse as the formal settings of parliament, councils and committees through to use informally to discuss issues of relevance to young people and students.

Watch our video to find out more about the competition and why Scottish school pupils love to compete: