Students make history at Westminster with RSPCA great debate

For the first time in history, students had the opportunity to debate key animal welfare issues in the House of Commons.

As part of the RSPCA’s Great Debate event, twelve and thirteen year old pupils from schools across the South East battled it out for the winning trophy.

The event aims to give pupils valuable experience of debating and research as well as the chance to visit Parliament and debate within the same walls as the politicians.

Schools included in the event were Italia Conti School in London, Islington Arts and Media School and Sweyen Park School from Rayleigh in Essex who took home the RSPCA Great Debate trophy.

The students debated on issues such as whether there should be a ban on wild animals in circuses, a ban on live exports and tougher sentencing for animal cruelty offenders.

The event took place following the success f the Great Debate in Wales, which has been running for the last four years at the Welsh Assembly and now sees regional heats as well as a Welsh final.

David Allen, Head of Education at the RSPCA, said: “The first RSPCA Great Debate event in England was a great success with some absolutely fantastic students who had thoroughly done their research and taken on board the key issues. They seemed genuinely passionate about animal welfare and presented their arguments brilliantly.”

At the event the pupils were joined by Angela Smith, Member of the Select Committee for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (EFRA). She said: “Animal welfare is something that comes up in an MP postbag time and again. It’s something that rightly as a society we really care about.

“I think it’s really interesting to see young people debating these issues and some of the points raised may even spark further debate amongst MPs themselves.”