• St Margaret`s School

Beyond the Classroom: Debating, Public Speaking and Model United Nations

"Model UN and public speaking have done an enormous amount for my confidence, communication skills and career prospects." 

Head Girl

Competitive debating and public speaking are among the ways we encourage higher order thinking skills and the development of self-confidence and self-expression. Girls learn to construct and deconstruct arguments, thinking on their feet and pitting their wits against each other and pupils from other schools. The debating president and her team run a weekly club for seniors on Fridays and for juniors on Mondays.


Annually, we enter external competitions including the North of Scotland Schools competitions (finalists in the debating last year, and finalists in the public speaking) and Debater Trophy, a local competition for novices, which we won this year. We regularly participate in the Oxford and Cambridge Union debating days. This session we again entered the Law Society debating competition for seniors and reached round 2. We entered the ESU Speakers’ Corner for young public speakers this year and reached the final. For the first time we held an inter-House debating competition and were impressed by the calibre and the panache of the entrants.


A popular spin-off of these activities over recent years has been our burgeoning enthusiasm for Model United Nations. We run mini conferences after school on Fridays at regular intervals and have attended day conferences at other schools. We have run our very own MEG’s MUN day conferences, designed and organised from beginning to end by the girls themselves. Several other local schools took part in these. Every March we have participated in the international MUN Conference run by George Watson’s College. In March 2017, representing Ukraine, our team of thirteen was awarded the trophy for Best Delegation for the third year running. Next year, we have plans to expand our horizons with other MUN destinations.


The week before the Watson’s conference, a team of eight also took part in the east Scotland round of the European Youth Parliament. This was the second time we had participated and, once again, we were delighted to win a place in the national final at Liverpool Hope University in September 2017. From that final the girls will have a chance to be selected to represent Britain in the international final.


Anyone can become a debater. No matter how shy and nervous at the outset, we encourage our girls to step out of their comfort zone and develop their communication and presentation skills, in a friendly and supportive environment.

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