Schoolchildren from five schools across South Wales have taken part in a lively and engaging discussion on animal welfare.

RSPCA Cymru held its annual school debating event at Siambr Hywel in the National Assembly for Wales on Friday (24 June).

Great Debate 2016 pic3The event – ‘Animal Welfare: The Great Debate’ – involved students from Cymer Afan Comprehensive (Neath Port Talbot), Howell’s School (Cardiff), St Julian’s School (Newport), Bryn Hafren Comprehensive School (Vale of Glamorgan) and Ysgol Gyfun Gymraeg Bryn Tawe (Swansea).

Pupils debated the question – ‘whose responsibility is animal welfare?’; weighing up the various responsibilities of the different agencies involved – namely Welsh Government, local authorities, RSPCA, vets, police and the public.

Students from each school also acted as Media Officers during the day by taking photos and live tweeting during the event using the hashtag #GreatDebate2016.

Great Debate 2016 pic2Following the debate, a ‘Question Time’ style session took place with panellists representing organisations playing a role in ensuring the welfare of Wales’ pets, farm animals and wildlife who answered questions from school pupils.

The panel included RSPCA Cymru superintendent Martyn Hubbard, Head of Animal Welfare at Welsh Government Irene Allen, President of British Veterinary Association Welsh Branch Neil Patton, Police & Crime Commissioner for South Wales Police Alun Michael, Regulatory & Frontline Services Policy Officer for the Welsh Local Government Association Simon Wilkinson, and Chris O’Brien who spoke on behalf of the public. Great Debate 2016 panelists

RSPCA’s head of education, David Allen – who chaired the event – said it was a fantastic day.

“We thoroughly enjoyed meeting the students and hearing their debates for and against,” he said.

“We were impressed with all their contributions, the amount of research they had put in and their timekeeping on the day.

“We would like to say a big thank to everyone involved, all the schools and students for their hard work, the panel and everyone who helped to bring together this event.

“At the RSPCA our aim is to develop informed, responsible and compassionate citizens of the future, and this event was a very positive educational experience.

“We are already looking forward to doing it all again next year!”

Each student who took part received a certificate for their involvement and four special awards were presented by breakfast presenter for Capital FM South Wales Matt Lissack.

Future Campaigner winners Grace James and Ffion Gould from Bryn Tawe with Matt LissackAn award for Future Campaigner was given to students Grace James and Ffion Gould from Bryn Tawe and the Future Politician award was presented to Farren Pitcock from Bryn Hafren. Future Politician winner Farren Pitcock from Bryn Hafren with  Matt Lissack

The Future Journalist award was presented to student Media Officer Nathan Blackmore-Davies from Bryn Tawe.

The Animal The Future Journalist winner Nathan Blackmore-Davies from Bryn TaweWelfare Champion award, for the overall best student on the day, was presented to Poppy Smith from St Julians.

Matt said: “It was wonderful to present these awards to the students who shone on the day, but all the students did an amazing job and I’m sure they had a lot of fun as well as learn lots about animal welfare.” The Animal Welfare Champion award Poppy Smith from St Julians with Matt Lissack

If you would like to help the RSPCA, you can give £3 now by texting HELP to 78866 (text costs £3 + one standard network rate message). We are a charity and rely on public donations to exist.