School pupils take part at #RSPCAGD17Six schools have shone the spotlight on who has responsibility for animal welfare, in the landmark setting of the old National Assembly for Wales debating chamber.

Llantwit Major Comprehensive, St Richard Gwyn RC High (Barry), Builth Wells High, Cardiff High, Cardinal Newman RC (Rhydyfelin), and Lewis School Pengam all took part in RSPCA Cymru’s annual ‘Great Debate’ event, on Friday 23 June.

The Siambr Hywel debate focuses on six groups who all have a role in promoting and protecting the welfare of animals, namely RSPCA, vets, local authorities, the public, Welsh Government and Police.

Representatives from each school debated the merits of each organisation having primary responsibility for animal welfare.

School pupils also took part in an animal-themed quiz – hosted by radio DJ Matt Lissack – and enjoyed a tour of the Senedd. Gosia Siwonia, representing the Welsh Government, also fielded questions from pupils.

Each school also nominated media officers, who helped record proceedings and live-tweeted throughout the debate, utilising the hashtag #RSPCAGD17.

RSPCA head of education David Allen said: “We were proud to, once again, hold the Great Debate event at the National Assembly for Wales, with school pupils offering amazing arguments to a question which should focus everyone’s mind – who is responsible for animal welfare.

“Pupils made some incredibly impressive, engaging and thought-provoking contributions – and clearly demonstrated how, working together, we can do great things to help animals.

“This is an excellent event, and the schools really embraced the opportunity it gives them – from discussing animal welfare at a venue at the heart of democracy in Wales, to acting as media officers, touring the Senedd, quizzing the Welsh Government and meeting celebrity Matt Lissack.”

Pupils also voted on the issue of teaching animal welfare on the school curriculum – and every single student felt the topic should be taught in the classroom.

Mr Allen added: “The pupils clearly thought animal welfare should play a key role in the school journey – and that’s so welcome. The RSPCA has created free lesson plans for teachers, linked to Wales’ curricula, to help support teachers in bringing animal welfare to life in the classroom.”

Four pupils were recognised with awards after the debate for the strength of their contributions. Maisie Edwards (Llantwit Major) won ‘Future Politician’ of the Year award, with Ffion Kirk (St Richard Gwyn) named ‘Future Campaigner’ of the Year. Meanwhile, Ethan Hughes (Lewis Pengam), who live-streamed his school’s debating session, won the ‘Future Journalist’ award. Susanna Davies (Cardiff High) won the ‘Animal Welfare Champion’ award, for her overall performance on the day.

DJ Matt Lissack said: “It’s fantastic to work so closely with RSPCA Cymru on the hosting of this annual event. The knowledge and passion the pupils showed for animal welfare was inspiring, and it was amazing to have the chance to present Maisie, Ffion, Ethan and Susanna with their awards.”

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