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Highlands and Islands school pupils debate a hot topic

16 February 2011

School pupils across the Highlands and Islands have been researching and debating the hot topic of renewable energy as part of the Big Green Challenge debating competition.

The Big Green Challenge, which is organised by development agency HIE, has been running in schools since September with pupils researching and debating the issues surrounding renewable energy.

A total of 35 schools have taken part in the classroom activities, with 23 schools putting forward 30 teams to compete against local schools to select the top eight teams from across the region. Regional heats have taken place across the Highlands and Islands throughout January and February.

The eight winning schools from the first heat are:

  • Sandwick Junior High School
  • Tain Royal Academy
  • Keith Grammar School
  • Charleston Academy
  • The Nicolson Institute
  • Gairloch High School
  • Hermitage Academy
  • Castlebay Community School.

The winners will now go forward to the finals to be held at the Scottish Parliament in March. There the eight teams, made up of 24 finalists, will be competing for an overseas renewable energy fact-finding trip, the location of which is still to be announced. The second prize will be a trip to the Eden Project in Cornwall.

Participating schools have received an information pack, and have been using these in cross-curricular lessons for Science, English, Geography and Modern Studies. They have then held in-school debates and selected a team of three pupils to go forward to the local heats to compete against other schools.

A total of 30 teams from 23 schools have competed in the local heats, debating the motion that 'This house believes renewable energy will bring lots of benefits to communities'. Each school has had a renewable energy expert visit to help them prepare for the competition.

The debating competition, open to all S2 pupils across the region, is part of an education and awareness raising programme run by HIE, and aims to encourage pupils to learn more about the advantages and disadvantages of renewable energy developments in the Highlands and Islands.

Anna Allan, Senior Development Manager in HIE's Energy team, said: "The Big Green Challenge is about engaging with young people on a very important topic - how we are going to secure our future energy requirements and how our region should handle the opportunities that renewable energy presents. We want to ensure that our future decision makers understand the issues and see both sides of the debate.

"Here in the Highlands and Islands renewable energy offers us a fantastic opportunity for economic and community growth and to play a lead role in the development of clean, sustainable energy. It is therefore important for young people to develop an awareness of the issues and an understanding of the opportunities this growing sector presents."

Participating schools were as follows:

  • Brae High School and Sandwick Junior High School in Shetland;
  • Lossiemouth High School
  • Keith Grammar School
  • Grantown Grammar School
  • Stromness Academy
  • Orkney
  • Plockton High School
  • Gairloch High School
  • Hermitage Academy
  • Lomond School and Rothesay Joint Campus from Argyll and Bute
  • Castlebay Community School from Barra
  • Kinlochleven High School
  • Shawbost Community School
  • The Nicolson Institute and Lionel School from the Western Isles
  • Inverness High School
  • Charleston Academy
  • Fortose Academy
  • Kingussie High School
  • Golspie High School
  • Tain Royal Academy
  • Alness Academy.

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