Up for debate: Meeting the team representing Scotland

Our reporter hears from the students representing Scotland at this month's World Schools Debating Championship...

Calum Worsely, 17, Dollar Academy:

I GOT into debating five years ago after being the only person in the class to (tentatively) volunteer to give it a go. I enjoy the uncertainty around having 15 minutes to prepare to sound like you know what you're talking about. At the World Schools, I'm looking forward most to speaking in front of an audience of more than just judges – not something we get to do often! – and bringing the world to see Dundee. I think our preliminary round debates against Wales and South Africa will be toughest, and if we make the knockout rounds then England and Australia will be stiff competition. I'm at school at Dollar Academy where, on top of debating, I play rugby, and hope to study medicine at university."

Alfie Hinchcliffe, 16, George Heriot's:

"AS a shy, unsure 12-year-old boy, debating was not a naturally attractive prospect for me. Indeed I first attended the debating society at my school, George Heriot's, Edinburgh, as a result of peer pressure and flattery. Pressure on the part of six or so of my more strong-willed friends, and flattery by my head teacher who told me I would be good at it. After four years of debates in front of hundreds of people I still get nervous every time I have to speak publicly. It's that sickening feeling, coupled with the thrill that comes after giving a speech and knowing it was good enough to win which keeps me coming back for more."

Ruth Cameron, 16, Dollar Academy:

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"I HAVE been debating for five years. My school, Dollar Academy, encourages first years to do debates in English lessons: I found that, unlike most of my friends, I really enjoyed it and my teachers encouraged me to do it competitively. Debating exposes you to a lot of important questions and issues and enables you to really think about them. There is also a sociable side in that you meet a lot of like-minded people at the different competitions. My debating partner and I are also good friends, so that also makes preparing together for different motions more enjoyable. I would be most nervous if we had to debate against England; not only are they a very good team, there would be a lot of pressure to beat them. I still have no idea what I want to work as, but I hope to study languages."

Charlie Holmes, 15, George Heriot's:

"I BECAME involved in debating through school – Heriot's is good for getting first-timers into debating and getting them used to the format and technique pretty quickly. I enjoy a lot of things about it, but particularly the rush of making things up on the spot, where you need to be able to think fast and know what you're talking about. Apart from debating I play the clarinet in an orchestra and also the piano and go sailing when I get the chance. The competition will probably be from the top-ranked teams, Australia, Canada, and England, but with WSDC you never know. I haven't given much thought to a career yet but something involving debating skills would be good – law, for instance – but I don't have any plans."

David McCreath, 17, Aberdeen Grammar:

"I THINK the first debate I spoke in was about abolishing zoos, shortly after I started at Aberdeen Grammar School. That was six years ago and I'm now nearly 18, which means I've spent nearly a third of my life debating! One of the things I enjoy most about debating is the challenges it entails – it's not just about ranting for eight minutes, you have to be able to rant tactically. A couple of weeks after Dundee I'll be heading off to Edinburgh University to study politics and economics. I'm sure the time I have spent debating will be a valuable experience to draw upon for many years to come.