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Willows High School crowned DebateMate Cup 2022 champions

Credit: Willows High School

The debate to settle which Cardiff school would triumph in this year’s DebateMate Cup is over, with Willows High School crowned champions for 2022.

Students from the Tremorfa school have been taking part in the 12-week schools debating programme delivered by DebateMate with eight other schools in the city. The initiative has been sponsored by FinTech Wales and Cardiff Council’s Invest in Cardiff team and Cardiff Commitment.

The 12-week programme culminated in a head-to-head debate at the Principality Stadium where pupils from 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 debated topics such as ‘This House Supports A Cashless Society’ and ‘This House Believes That Sports Personalities Should Declare Their Opinions On Key Social Issues’.

Willows High and Eastern High Community Campus made it to the final, debating the topic ‘This House Believes Technology Has Done More To Disconnect Than Connect’. Team Willows, which has a strong debating pedigree with current pupils Marzooq Subhani and Crystal Tran chosen to represent the UK at a debating competition in Dubai earlier this year, went on to win the DebateMate Cup 2022!

Year 11 pupil, Marzooq, was part of the winning DebateMate Cup 2022 team along with Aiden Barrett, Inaaya Chowdbury and Carmen Haile, who are all in Year 9.

The debating programme seeks to develop pupils’ oratory skills and awareness of the financial technology (FinTech) sector in a series of debating contests.  Schools took part in an hour-long debating workshop every week and were assigned DebateMate mentors, who are students from universities across Cardiff.

The FinTech workshops were supported by companies such as Confused.com, Pepper Money, Admiral Group, PwC, Deloitte, Credas, Active Quote and Delio Group. Each partner is a member of 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.

Cabinet Member for Education, Cllr Sarah Merry, said: “A huge well done to Willows High for this fantastic achievement. Congratulations must also go to all of the schools that have taken part in the programme and their students who have set an incredibly high standard in this competition.

“It’s been wonderful to see almost 300 young people involved in the initiative and I’m sure everyone has found it a worthwhile and enriching experience. Thanks must also go to the 16 mentors from the city’s universities who have supported schools over the 12 weeks and of course, the businesses who facilitated the workshops helping to raise awareness of the FinTech sector in Wales.”

Sarah Williams-Gardener, the CEO of FinTech Wales, said: “The Cardiff Debate Mate Programme has been an outstanding success. Not only has the programme developed essential business skills for our future workforce, but we have been extremely lucky to get FinTech members involved to mentor the students and open their eyes to FinTech and the phenomenal career opportunities we have here in Wales.

I’m extremely grateful to our members, including Admiral, Confused.com, Credas, Delio, Deloitte, Principality Building Society, PepperMoney, PWC and ActiveQuote, who visited the schools during the programme and spent valuable time with the students and teachers involved. Their success stories and key insights of developing a FinTech business in Wales will have no doubt inspired many young people to join our ecosystem. Our mission is to develop and retain the skills required to support this sector’s growth, and this programme has and will continue to make a significant contribution to that.

Huge huge congratulations to everyone involved and especially to the students who took part, all of which are extremely talented and have wonderful futures ahead.”

Willows headteacher, Chris Norman, said:”We are so proud of our pupils’ achievements and thank DebateMate, FinTech Wales and Cardiff Committment for giving them the opportunity to shine. The pupils have gained valuable skills and experiences by taking part in the programme and it has been great to see their confidence grow with every debate. Special thanks go to Miss Nelms and Mrs Cook, members of our English department and Chelsea, our DebateMate mentor for supporting the teams throughout.”