The announcement of the preliminary rounds of the National Gaelic Schools Debate competition has been made.

The 2018 competition looks set to be another excellent year, organisers say.

The first two rounds will be held at the Town Hall in Stornoway, on Tuesday 6th and Wednesday 7th of November.

 And, for the first time, the Scottish Qualifications Authority is backing the event.

Last year, for the first time ever the first rounds from Stornoway were available online, through e-Sgoil’s YouTube channel and the Deasbad Committee will be making sure that this year’s first round will also be streamed live to a potentially global audience.

Sixteen teams from 14 schools are due to compete in the 2018 competition.

Following on from the positive feedback received from the new competition format, all the schools will participate in debates over the two days, with the four teams with the highest points, across the two days, progressing to the final stages which will be held in Edinburgh on Tuesday and Wednesday the 27th and 28th of November 2018. 

The Committee welcome Acair manager Agnes Rennie and former Sabhal Mor Ostaig principal Boyd Robertson who will join former BBC journalist and present Am Paipear editor Iain Stephen Morrison as judges.  

Calum Iain Macleod, who chairs the National Gaelic Schools’ Debate Management Committee, said:“It is hard to believe that almost twenty years have passed since the first Deasbad took place in Uist in 1999.

"I would like to thank the following for their support: Bòrd na Gàidhlig, The Scottish Government, Skills Development Scotland, Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, The Highland Council, Glasgow City Council, Education Scotland and for the first time, the Scottish Qualifications Authority. 

“Following the success of the 2017 Debate which saw Calum MacLennan and John Alasdair Bain from The Nicolson Institute emerge as the worthy winners, a high level of competition was set and we look forward to another year of interesting and thought-provoking debates.”

Robert Quinn, Head of English, Languages and Business at the Scottish Qualifications Authority, said: “We are delighted to be able to support the 2018 Deasbad. The debate gives young Gaelic speakers the opportunity to hone their linguistic skills, and provides them with a platform to showcase their public speaking abilities.

"With 2018 being the Year of Young People, it’s right for SQA to lend its support in this way, promote engagement and cooperation between the participating schools, and encourage the promotion and use of SQA’s Gàidhlig, Gaelic (Learners)  and Gaelic-medium qualifications.

"We want to see more young people engaging with Gaelic, and Deasbad is a fantastic way of showing the opportunities that the language opens up.”