THE number of schools still in the running to win the Law Society’s annual debating tournament has been whittled down to 16, following the second-round heats of the competition.

And amongst the semi-finalists are Mari Kinihan and William Adams from Peebles High School as well as Coll McCail and Fin Laing from Biggar High School.

The latest round saw 32 school teams put forward their arguments to the motion ‘This House would privatise the BBC’ in an attempt to secure a place in the next round.

These teams had reached the second round heat having successfully argued the motion ‘This House would introduce compulsory National Civic Service for all 15 and 16 year olds’ at the first stage.

Lyndsey Thomson, careers and outreach coordinator at the Law Society, told us: “The high standards of debating that we saw at the opening stage were again demonstrated by the teams.

"With each stage the tension builds, presenting an increased challenge for the teams to contend with.

"The pressure will be on for the semi-final, particularly as the teams only get sight of the motion an hour before the debate, with a total ban on access to newspapers, computers or smartphones. It will be a real test of their general knowledge, quick thinking and powers of persuasion.”

The semi-finalists are: Albyn School; Balfron High School; Banchory Academy; Biggar High School; Broxburn Academy; Douglas Academy; Duncanrig Secondary School; Fortrose Academy; Holy Cross High School; Our Lady & St Patrick’s High School; Peebles High School; The Royal High School; Thurso High School; St Andrew’s Academy; St Columba’s RC High School; Wellington School.

The Donald Dewar Memorial Debating Tournament is now in its 21st year.

It is open to all schools across Scotland and sees nationwide participation, with competing schools from the highlands down to the borders and east to west coasts.

The semi-finals will be held in March, with the final scheduled for June.

The Law Society awards first place a prize of £1,000, and the top two teams will share educational books to the value of £500 donated by the event sponsor, Hodder Gibson.