Pupils from Great Yarmouth High School triumph in debating competition

From left to right: The winning team from GYHS. Erin Spooner, 15, Phoebe Harvey, 15, Lily Thompson,

From left to right: The winning team from GYHS. Erin Spooner, 15, Phoebe Harvey, 15, Lily Thompson, 14, Keeley Roe, 15. Photo: Vikki Savage - Credit: Archant

Youngsters have given politicians a run for their money, wowing judges at a debating competition.

The finals of the inaugural Great Yarmouth Youth Debate took place in the borough council's debating chamber at the town hall on Friday.

The winning team was from Great Yarmouth High School, a year 10 group consisting of Phoebe Harvey, 15, Keeley Roe, 15, Erin Spooner, 15 and Lily Thompson, 14.

The debates were organised by former Caister High and East Norfolk sixth form pupil Heather Pontin, 20, who is now studying politics at the University of Brighton.

She has been driving the nearly 400 mile round trip to take organise the debates and conduct workshops on the different topics for the pupils.

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Miss Pontin said she was trying to get more young people involved in politics.

'I think there's a lot of apathy so it's good to get more young people involved.'

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She added: 'I'm surprised how interested the pupils were. They have all undertaken independent research and they are getting really into it. It is really good seeing their enthusiasm.'

Now she is hoping to make the debates a regular fixture in the calendar.

The debate judges were deputy leader of the council and Conservative councillor Penny Carpenter, Ukip group leader Cllr Kay Grey and Labour group leader Cllr Trevor Wainwright.

Great Yarmouth's MP watched the final and said afterwards that he was very impressed by the skills of the youngsters.

'They were really good, they'll give us a run for our money.'

The first competition was held in October and saw teams from Great Yarmouth High, Ormiston Venture Academy, Lynn Grove and Flegg High School give their two penn'orth on a variety of subjects.

The topics of the debates were: 'should the UK be in or out of the EU', 'should the UK adopt and Australian points-based system for immigration', 'should assisted-dying be legalised', 'should the voting age be lowered' and the final debate was on human genetic engineering.

Mayor of Great Yarmouth Cllr Malcolm Bird handed out the trophies and congratulated the youngsters on their achievement, adding: 'You have to be very brave to take these subjects up.'

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