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Editor's comment

To reinforce the many plaudits which have come the way of Scotland's champion school debaters (p8), we are delighted to add our own modest congratulations. Too often we feel the need to overstate our national triumphs simply because the opportunities do not come along that often whether it be the Murray brothers on the tennis court or Colin Montgomerie's occasional golfing wins or the Scotland football team's resurgent form.

But, despite the tiny base from which school debating has to launch itself in Scotland, our record in the world championships is more remarkable than that in many of those other fields: this is the third win and Scottish pupils have been runners-up five times. Although there has been a strong debating tradition in Scottish schools, the infrastructure is not well- supported, as our report this week shows.

The fact that the team had to draw so heavily on pupils from the independent sector should be a warning to state schools. It should also send a signal to politicians that more must be done to reinforce debating in schools: after all, it is something that nurtures the seed corn of their own profession. Talent ought to be encouraged, wherever it manifests itself and especially when that is on the world stage.

Analysing facts and marshalling arguments in public are also skills to which the Scottish Executive should be committed. It is clear from Team Scotland's success that the pupils' debating qualities fit perfectly with official policy turning them into successful learners, confident individuals, effective contributors and responsible citizens.

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