Students discuss a ban on school uniform

Pupils from primary schools across North Yorkshire took issue with school uniform, when it was the chosen topic during a debating contest.

the winning team from Oatlands Junior School in Harrogate with North Yorkshire County Council Chairman, Cllr Jim Clark

The Year 5 and 6 students had come together for the finals of the county-wide competition, to debate whether school uniform should be banned. 

In the Council Chambers of North Yorkshire County Council’s headquarters in Northallerton, the young people, aged 11 and 12, put forward their arguments and answered questions from the other competitors. They represented nine different schools from across the county, who had won their local district heat to reach the grand final. 

The contest was won by students from Oatlands Junior School in Harrogate, with pupils from St Robert’s Catholic Primary School in Harrogate the runners-up.

The contest was organised by Cllr Janet Sanderson and Cllr Cliff Trotter and is now in its seventh year. The contest was started by Cllr Trotter during his year as county council chairman, as he wanted to see more young people interested in local politics. 

He said developing skills to listen and debate opposing views respectfully seemed ever more important, as social media platforms often encouraged the opposite behaviour. 

“I thought we needed to see more young people involved in politics and decision-making and also give them an opportunity to see where decisions are made which impact on their lives, so I set up this debating competition,” he said. 

“Public speaking is also a great life skill.

“The first year we had six schools taking part and the contest has flourished since then. This year we had 68 schools take part.”

The contest began in March with local heats for different areas of the county, before the finals took place at County Hall on June 14. 

The winners were picked by a five-strong panel, including councillors, public speaking experts and a former teacher.

One of the schools which reached the finals was Croft CE Primary School, situated between Darlington and Northallerton. One of the teachers at the school, Tony Williams, said: “This contest doesn’t just give them confidence in public speaking, but also how to put an argument together and how to ask and answer questions on the spot.

“We do have regular debates in class; it definitely improves their listening and communication skills.”

Children taking part voted for next year’s topic of debate, which will be; “should children be allowed to use computer tablets in school?”

The first local heats will take part in March 2020.

This story was published 5 July 2019