Birmingham schools urged to grab place at RSPCA 2019 debating competition

Pupils can develop skills in research, deliberation and communication as part of the Great Debate, with a Birmingham heat scheduled for 10 April.

Schools across Birmingham have been invited by the RSPCA to sign up a special animal-themed debating competition in 2019 – the Great Debate.

The competition brings together pupils aged 11 to 14 to discuss and debate a host of ethical animal welfare topics – nurturing key skills in research, deliberation and communication.

RSPCA staff hope the debates will inspire school pupils to research, explore and discuss animal welfare; and learn key lessons in citizenship. The scheme was first launched in Wales in 2015 at the National Assembly for Wales – and now, as part of its expansion under the charity’s Generation Kind initiative, is being offered up to schools in the Birmingham area.

The sign-up window is now open – and schools in Birmingham can register their interest online via the RSPCA website.

A regional heat will take place for schools in the Birmingham area – at Birmingham City Council House on 10 April 2019. Schools will have chance to progress to a grand finale in London, which will also feature schools from the Reading and Leeds areas.

In the London finale, later in the year, pupils explore and debate the role different agencies play in keeping animals safe; encouraging consideration of who has ultimate responsibility for animal welfare.

David Allen, head of education at the RSPCA, said: “After four highly successful years, we look forward to 2019 where we hope the Great Debate will reach even more pupils. We’re delighted to offer this great opportunity for schools across Birmingham to get involved.

“We know that young people care passionately about animals. Our research shows that about eight out of ten children consider them an important member of the family. By exploring the role of animals in society, it can throw up some really interesting views and questions.

“It’s vital that we open up the debate on animal welfare to the younger generation and it has been very interesting to see the attitudes and opinions of students and inspiring that so many of them feel passionate about helping animals.

“From gaining confidence in from speaking in public, to constructing persuasive arguments and quickly assessing the value of opposing views, we believe that mastering the skills of debating at school has never been more important.

“The Great Debate also gives the school pupils access to political institutions central in setting animal welfare policy in England and Wales; helping them to become well-rounded citizens, with an understanding of how they can affect change on a national level.”

School pupils will have the chance to win a series of awards as part of the Great Debate, while school media officers will also work to capture the story of proceedings, and promote the work of their peers.

Mr Allen added: “The RSPCA is already looking forward to next year’s heats in Birmingham, and the grand finale in London. We can’t wait to hear the arguments and interesting topics we know the pupils from across Birmingham will be discussing on the day.”

More information on the RSPCA’s Generation Kind scheme is available online.


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