Six schools from across Wales have qualified for the finale of a prestigious debating competition, to take place at the National Assembly for Wales.
RSPCA Cymru has been hosting Great Debate events, with school children debating a host of animal welfare topics at “centres of citizenship and democracy” across Wales.
Twenty two teams from 21 schools have competed in five Wales heats – with schools from Cardiff, Bangor, Milford Haven, Pontypridd, Llanelli and Rhydyfelin winning through and reaching June’s final.
Debates aim to inspire school pupils to research, explore and discuss animal welfare; and learn key lessons in citizenship. Five heat winners and one runner-up qualified from the preliminary events. The successful schools were:
The Cathedral School, Cardiff
Ysgol Tryfan, Bangor
Milford Haven School, Milford Haven
Bryn Celynnog, Pontypridd
Ysgol Coedcae, Llanelli
Cardinal Newman (Best Runner-Up), Rhydyfelin
The schools debated a range of topics - including the impact of the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union to animals, hunting with dogs, animal abuse penalties, the keeping of primates as pets, and the use of service animals.
Pupils taking part also learned more about the RSPCA and animal welfare in Wales, with an interactive quiz – utilising voting technology, and providing further lessons in citizenship and democracy.
Schools appointed media officers, who had the chance to nurture their own journalistic skills in the field of animal welfare, supporting their classmates and informing the public about the debate by live-tweeting and reporting on proceedings.
Heats took place at decision-making hubs across Wales – at Cardiff County Hall, Llandudno Town Hall, Neath Port Talbot Civic Centre, Pembrokeshire County Council and Merthyr Council Civic Centre; chosen for the role they play in making key decisions about the lives of young people, animals and the wider local community.
The Great Debate events form part of the RSPCA’s flagship Generation Kind initiative – a set of ambitious, innovative projects that aim to nurture and encourage the values of kindness and compassion towards all animals within children and young people.
RSPCA first launched the Great Debate in Wales in 2015 at the National Assembly for Wales. Since then, the scheme has expanded – and more pupils have taken part in 2019 than ever before.
Heats have also taken place across England – in Reading, Birmingham and Leeds, with a finale for England’s schools due to take place in London later this year, too.
Sarah Vining, RSPCA events manager, said: “RSPCA Cymru is delighted to have hosted Great Debate events across Wales, giving young people the opportunity to develop their debating skills and learn about animal welfare at centres of citizenship and democracy.
“The standard of debating was exceptionally high – with the passion, interest and enthusiasm the young people have for animal welfare clear to see. That’s why the Great Debate programme is such an important part of our new Generation Kind initiative.
“Huge congratulations must go to Cardiff’s The Cathedral School, Bangor’s Ysgol Tryfan, Milford Haven School, Bryn Celynnog in Pontypridd, Ysgol Coedcae of Llanelli and Rhydyfelin’s Cardinal Newman, who will now participate in the grand finale at the National Assembly for Wales.
“From developing empathy and compassion, encouraging greater understanding of animal welfare, and nurturing skills in public speaking, negotiating and in journalism, we hope these events will leave a lasting legacy to all attendees,
“Wales’ Great Debate grand final takes place at Siambr Hywel – the Assembly’s first debating chamber; and a venue which has played such an important role both in Wales’ democracy, and in setting animal welfare laws for this country. School pupils will this time debate whose responsibility animal welfare is, and we cannot wait to hear more inspirational contributions from the animal ambassadors of the future.”
Additional information on the RSPCA’s Generation Kind scheme is available online.