Pupils discuss ban on school uniform

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

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.

Organised by Councillors Janet Sanderson and Cliff Trotter, the contest is now in its seventh year after being started by the then chairman Coun Trotter who 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 winners were picked by a five-strong panel, including councillors, public speaking experts and a former teacher.