PUPILS at a Borders school have been crowned the best young debaters in Scotland for the second consecutive year.

Peebles High students Thomas Dunmur and Laura Eggleton came out on top in this year's tournament, which is run by the Law Society of Scotland.

It is the second year in a row that a team from the school has won the competition and its third win in just four years.

Campbell Wilson, headteacher at Peebles High, said: “Winning the Donald Dewar Memorial debate tournament 2021 is a massive boost for morale at the end of another challenging year for our school.

“Laura Eggleton and Thomas Dunmur were superb in the final and deserved winners against Thurso High School, Fortrose Academy and the Royal High School of Edinburgh.

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“Special mention must also be made of their inspirational coach and debate club leader, English teacher Rachel Hyatt, who has nurtured a culture of intellectual challenge and debate over the last five years that has seen Peebles High win the national title three times in the last five years, namely 2017/18, 2019/20 and 2020/21.

“We are exceptionally proud of our amazing young people and their inspirational teacher.”

Thomas and Laura, who are currently in S5, will receive £1,000 for their school from the Law Society of Scotland, with the winners and runners up sharing educational books to the value of £500.

This year, 64 schools from across Scotland entered the national school debating tournament – with the competition culminating with the final on June 10.

The final is usually held in the debating chamber of the Scottish Parliament.

However, due to the coronavirus pandemic the tournament was held entirely online for the first time.

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According to the society, the Peebles pupils won “on the strength of their arguments opposing the motion ‘This House would ban opinion polls being published in the build-up to an election’”.

East Berwickshire councillor Carol Hamilton, who is also the executive member for children and young people, said: “This is such a wonderful achievement and many congratulations to not only Thomas and Laura, but all those at Peebles High who have supported them.

“The school has a strong record now of doing well in this competition and to have triumphed once again, during these especially challenging times, is a real testament to their commitment and skill,” added the Conservative representative.

Ken Dalling, president of the Law Society of Scotland, said: “Congratulations to Thomas and Laura on their well-deserved win. It was a hard-fought final and I was incredibly impressed by the skill of all the debaters and the quality of their arguments.

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“The judges certainly had a hard task choosing the winner from a fantastic group of finalists and the six other challengers proved worthy opponents, with passionate and skilled reasoning. Everyone should be very proud of their achievements and reaching the final.”

He added: “I am delighted that we have been able to continue to give schools and pupils the chance to participate in the Dewar Debate by going fully online.

“The final was an exciting and fitting end to the tournament and I thank all the debaters and coaches for their commitment and enthusiasm in such challenging circumstances.”