Skegness Grammar School students take on the Great Debate at Houses of Parliament

A student from Skegness Grammar School, part of the David Ross Education Trust, has represented Lincolnshire in a national debating championship as part of the Historical Association’s ‘Great Debate’, held at the Houses of Parliament last weekend.


After his initial success during the Lincolnshire heat of the competition, Finlay Chatterton-Smith competed against 22 finalists from a number of schools across the country in a bid to secure the national debating title.


During the national final, held in the Jubilee Chamber at the House of Commons, the Year 13 student impressed the judges with his persuasive arguments and his polished debating skills.


Focusing on the topic of whether the 1918 extension of the vote to women was the most significant moment in British democratic history, Finlay produced a five-minute speech which wowed the judges with his knowledge, confidence and his ability to see past the positive interpretations of collective memory.


In a bold move, Finlay went against popular opinion by arguing that the extension of the franchise was not the most significant moment in British democratic history, as it wasn’t as far-reaching as popular histories would have us believe.


Finlay said: “I thoroughly enjoyed the day and it was a great chance for me to prepare for my dream career in law. This experience has also helped me to prepare and present an argument in a persuasive manner.


“It was really interesting to hear how other candidates interpreted the question in so many different ways.”


Laura Howey, Subject Improvement Lead for Humanities at Skegness Grammar School, said: “This competition has been a fantastic opportunity for many of our students to engage in debates about key historical and political concepts.


“We are so proud of Finlay for reaching the national finals at the House of Commons. He has represented our school, and our county, with pride and passion throughout.”


Heather Scott, Principal at Skegness Grammar School, said: “Finlay has presented himself extremely well during this national debating competition. His argument was compelling and showcased his passion for ensuring equality for all.


“It was a pleasure to witness his performance, and I am sure that this incredible achievement is just the beginning of his career as a successful barrister.”




Skegness Grammar School, part of the David Ross Education Trust, aims to provide every student with a world-class education by focusing on delivering high standards of attainment and achievement, whilst raising confidence and self-esteem amongst individuals.


Being part of an educational community, sharing ideas and a love of learning is such an important part of a child's education. Offering a rich and exciting learning environment that inspires students to become their confident, academic best is vital to this. 


The David Ross Education Trust’s ‘Monday’s Debates’ initiative, which runs across every primary and secondary school, encourages students to develop their knowledge of current affairs as part of debates that take place every week. With topics ranging from human rights and peace to the use of technology in our daily lives, students are encouraged to share their views and argue their case with rigour and confidence as part of this pioneering initiative.