FOUR young debaters will represent the region in a national competition, after winning a local heat last week.

Teenagers from Durham Johnston School, in Durham City, were named Debating Matters champions for the North-East and Yorkshire following a contest held in Newcastle on Friday, March 4.

They will now represent the region at a three-day Institute of Ideas national final in London in July.

Judges said Durham Johnston’s debaters were ‘extremely sophisticated in their arguments and showed a remarkable ability to think on their feet’.

Students discussed topics including: ‘Happiness is the business of government’, ‘Copyright benefits the arts’ and ‘We should embrace the use of smart drugs’.

Student Louis Cowling, who won the Best Individual award, said: "It was brilliant but extraordinarily stressful."

Classmate Lawrence Rees said: "Debating Matters promotes a high quality of debate because the judges are subject experts - they really test you to the limit."

Teacher Rob Johnson said: "They did brilliantly - bring on the national final."

The school won £500-worth of books.

Schools from Newcastle, Northumberland, Bradford, Grimsby and York also competed.

Durham Johnston were crowned national champions two years ago.