Six schools from across England have headed to Westminster - with a Leeds-based school winning top honours for their animal welfare debating skills.
Dixons Trinity Chapeltown, from the West Yorkshire city, were judged to have won the grand finale, with the 'Great Debate' concept an integral part of the RSPCA's Generation Kind initiative.
Generation Kind is a set of ambitious, innovative projects aiming to nurture and encourage the values of kindness and compassion towards all animals within children and young people - of which the ‘Great Debate’ is one part.
Other ‘Generation Kind’ schemes include those aimed at looked-after children, deprived areas and youth offenders, though the ‘Great Debate’ is open to all schools across the country.
The Academy was one of six schools to have come through regional heats to reach the final yesterday (Monday 17 June).
Reading Girls School, King Edwards VI Five Ways (Birmingham), Roundhay Academy (Leeds), Highdown School (Reading) and Harborne Academy (Birmingham) had also qualified for the event, having won through regional heats earlier in the year.
Schools debated the issue of who holds responsibility for animal welfare in England - discussing the role which the general public, veterinarians, local authorities, the RSPCA, the UK Government and the police all play in protecting the nation's animals.
Each school team also nominated media officers to live-tweet debates, utilising the hashtag #RSPCAGD19, learning how journalists keep the public informed about events.
Awards were also given to individuals pupils who demonstrates outstanding performance at the finale in Westminster - with pupils from schools based in Birmingham and Reading picking up trophies. These were:
- Logan Smith (Harborne Academy) - Future Journalist
- William Brown (Harborne Academy) - Future Politician
- Amandeep Mavi (Reading Girls School) - Future Campaigner
A pupil from Highdown School was also recognised with the ‘Animal Welfare Champion’ accolade.
The UK Government's Animal Welfare Minister David Rutley MP attended the Great Debate.
Dave Allen, RSPCA head of education, said: “Just a stone’s throw from the House of Commons - and at a venue where Members of Parliament once sat during war-torn London in the early 1940s - the animal ambassadors of the future put on a real masterclass.
“It was so rewarding to watch the pupils from schools all across England debate the vital topic of where responsibility for animal welfare lies.
“Generation Kind is all about inspiring young people to be compassionate, empathetic and understand our fellow living creatures. Those taking part seized all the opportunities on offer - from first-class debating, to acting as budding student journalists.
“It was incredible to witness how the children have progressed through the heats, building in confidence and communicating new ideas, research and findings.
“Our congratulations go the winners - with Dixons Trinity Chapeltown our champion school for England. They debated the role the RSPCA play - and were awarded the trophy for their strong team-work, stimulating and well-researched arguments; and obvious understanding as to the role of the RSPCA plays within society.
“We hope the scheme will leave a lasting legacy for participants - with the individual award winners too displaying the skills the Great Debate aims to develop - namely communication, campaigning and compassion.”
The event "unlocked the corridors of power" to school children, with pupils also given a tour of the UK Parliament. Mr Allen added that this is vital to the scheme’s aim of nurturing citizenship, and teaching the animal ambassadors of the future where decisions are made concerning their fellow living creatures.
He added: “The tour of the UK Parliament was a great addition for the school children - bringing to life our decision-making process; and we’re grateful to the parliamentary tours team for facilitating this. It really unlocked the corridors of power for them all.
“The Great Debate is all about developing citizenship skills, and opening the eyes of the next generation how decisions which impact animals are made, and how they can influence those decisions in the future.”
More information about Generation Kind is available on the RSPCA’s website. If you wish to support the RSPCA and these initiatives, you can donate online. The RSPCA is a charity and relies on public donations.