Teams from Durham School, Durham Johnston School, St Leonard’s Catholic School and Framwellgate School Durham contested this year’s Youth Speak event, organised by Durham Rotary Club.
Topics debated included abolishing private schools, introducing minimum pricing for alcohol and restricting the pay of senior executives.
In a closely-fought final, Framwellgate triumphed over Durham School.
The event is run with help from Durham Union Society (DUS) and held in DUS’ debating chamber on Palace Green, Durham.
Kit Mercer, from DUS, said: “I took great pride in seeing how much the kids improved.
“We had three sessions with them and they went from being really nervous at the start to confidently speaking in front of the whole chamber about a topic they’d only been told about 20 minutes previously.
“I’d been a bit worried that they would have been bored or disruptive but they were all really keen and a genuine pleasure to coach.”
Rotary club president Martin Leake presented a shield to the winners and certificates to all participants.
David Jackson, from Durham Rotary Club, said: “I think the whole scheme is brilliant and the schools are amazing. Kit and the DUS team are a pleasure to work with.”