Eight Cardiff schools to battle for debating crown

High school pupils across Cardiff are being encouraged to channel their inner Barack Obama and become the debating stars of the future.

In a first for Wales, Cardiff Council and FinTech Wales is launching the DebateMate Schools programme, designed to develop pupils' oratory skills and awareness of the FinTech sector in a series of debating contests leading to a grand final later this year.

As part of the programme, each of the schools - Cardiff West Community High School, Cantonian High School, Cathays High School, Willows High School, St Teilo's CiW High School, Eastern High Community Campus, Ysgol Gyfun Gymraeg Glantaf and Fitzalan High School - will embark on a 12-week programme, featuring an hour-long debating workshop every week.

The schools will all be assigned DebateMate mentors who are students from universities across Cardiff and in weeks 8 and 12 there will be organised debating competitions on subjects connected to FinTech Wales, a not for profit membership organisation connecting the ecosystem establishing Wales on the global Fintech stage and one of the programme sponsors, along with Cardiff Council's Cardiff Commitment, and Invest in Cardiff.

A total of 16 mentors will be involved with up to as many as 290 pupils taking part. All will be hoping to emulate the achievements of Willows High School pupils Marzooq Subhani and Crystal Tran who were chosen to represent the UK at a debating competition in Dubai earlier this month after winning a national competition.

Sarah Williams-Gardener, the CEO of FinTech Wales, said: "Inspiring our young people at the informative stage of their education, with diverse role models and insights into FinTech career opportunities in new exciting sectors, is a personal mission.

The work opportunities in FinTech are continually evolving so it's therefore imperative we collaborate between the world of work and education. Working with Cardiff Commitment and Invest in Cardiff, Fintech Wales are proud to be able to launch this debating competition which will engage pupils, educating them on the current finance topics and engaging with leading Welsh financial service providers which also provide general business skills, negotiation, presentation and research.

The FinTech jobs market is vibrant here in Cardiff and I want every young person to see the opportunities this offers for a career and prosperous life in Wales."

The new initiative builds on an event held last year in which pupils from Cantonian and Fitzalan high schools took part in a live debate last June on the subject: Cryptocurrency - Good or Bad?, an event introduced to schools via FinTech Wales.

The DebateMate Schools Programme will be officially launched at an event in City Hall, Cardiff, next Friday morning (March 4) which will feature a debate involving some of the pupils taking part.

Cllr Sarah Merry, the Council's Cabinet Member for Education, Employment and Skills, said: "The Cardiff Commitment engages industry with schools to help develop the knowledge and skills needed in our young people to secure a positive destination after they leave school. This programme will allow pupils to learn about elements of the FinTech industry and inspire pupils to think about future careers."

Ken Poole, Head of Economic Development, Cardiff Council said: "The DebateMate Schools Programme is a fantastic way to not only develop the debating skills of our pupils - skills relevant for the world of work and in other areas of life - but we are linking the debates to a growth sector in Cardiff and an industry which is very well represented in the city - FinTech. The programme, part sponsored by Cardiff Council's Economic Development Team and Cardiff Commitment, will support the development of skills and knowledge of the FinTech sector in our schools and young people".

The DebateMate Schools programme will be a fun, exciting and energetic event guaranteed to get the students engaged and excited for the 12-week programme."



Caption: Pupils from Cantonian and Fitzalan High Schools at last year's DebateMate event with Ken Poole, Invest in Cardiff and Sarah Williams Gardener, FinTech Wales