SPORTS stars as role models and the purpose of the European Union will be argued by teenagers who will be grilled by academics and North-East cultural representatives.

The qualifying rounds of the Institute of Ideas Debating Matters Competition are being held at Teesside University on Monday, November 24.

Confirmed to take part are teams from English Martyrs School and Sixth Form College in Hartlepool, Stokesley School, Hartlepool Sixth Form College, Durham School, Durham Johnston Comprehensive School, St Bede’s Catholic School and Sixth Form College, Park View School, Durham, and Hermitage Academy, Chester-le-Street.

Jason Smith, Partnership’s Coordinator for Debating Matters said the contest was regarded as the toughest debating competition in the UK.

“Debaters will have to prove they can answer the tough questions if they want to claim the top prize.

“A brilliant speech alone will not suffice in the competition which tests students’ knowledge, as well as their public speaking skills.”

During the debate which is open to the public, students will be grilled by a group of expert judges from Teesside University and other professionals from across the region.

Judges include Senior Lecturer in History, Dr Graham Ford, and Senior Lecturer in Counselling Psychology, Dr Lesley Pilkington, both from Teesside University in Middlesbrough.

They will be also be quizzed by Mauricio Armellini, Chief Economist at North-East Local Enterprise Partnership, Erin Rolfe, Education Officer at Mima art gallery and Teesside-based writer and cultural historian, Rebecca Jenkins.

Nicola Noble, Recruitment Manager at Teesside University, said: “The event gives young people the opportunity to develop their research, presentation and public speaking skills in a wide range of diverse and topical areas. It is a great opportunity for them and I can’t wait to see how the event unfolds.”