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Royal Armouries Museum holds schools’ debate on youth violence

Friday, 23 September 2022

schools’ debate

Students from two secondary schools in Leeds have come together at the Royal Armouries Museum to discuss the pressing issue of violent crime.

The schools’ debate on knife crime links to a temporary exhibition at the museum called ‘At the Sharp End’. This hard-hitting display, which is due to go on tour in the area in October, was developed in partnership with the West Yorkshire Violence Reduction Unit to highlight both the effects of violent crime and the positive work done to tackle the underlying causes of violence in our communities.

The year 10 and 11 students from Boston Spa Academy and John Smeaton Academy took inspiration from the temporary exhibition to debate the following motion:

Education programmes would be more effective than prison sentences when it comes to first time knife crime offenders.

As well as considering the complex content of the arguments for and against, the debate was an opportunity for the students to gain experience in public speaking, as well as teamwork and leadership.

The debate was delivered by external organisation Debate Mate, which supports young people to find their voices and increase their employment skills to narrow the attainment gap affecting schools in more deprived areas.

The day involved visiting the temporary exhibition, debate preparation, speeches from teams of pupils, as well as questions and statements in an interactive and fast-paced session. The debate was judged by Alison Lowe OBE, West Yorkshire Deputy Mayor for Policing and Crime, and incoming Director General of the Royal Armouries Nat Edwards.

Kyra Davies, Year 11 student from John Smeaton Academy said:

“We’ve been able to have a real insight into the topic at hand – knife crime and violence – all together. We’ve been able to really look at the ins and outs, and the problems that people in charge face when trying to find solutions.”

Nat Edwards, incoming Director General of the Royal Armouries and one of the judges said:

“At the Royal Armouries, we believe that the critical issue of violent crime can only be tackled by communities, individuals and organisations coming together. Collaboration has been pivotal in developing a temporary exhibition on the difficult subject of youth crime and hosting this debate in conjunction with the West Yorkshire Violence Reduction Unit.

“From watching the debate and talking to students, it is clear that the young people of Leeds are impassioned when it comes to speaking up on this critical issue. I was deeply impressed by the debating skills of the pupils as well as their grasp of the complexities of this subject. Congratulations to all involved.”

Alison Lowe OBE, West Yorkshire Deputy Mayor for Policing and Crime said:

“It is crucial that our young people are able to express their views and have their voices heard on this incredibly important national agenda.

“Their brilliant contributions will help inform the approach of the West Yorkshire Violence Reduction Unit (VRU) and shape future interventions.

“It was a pleasure to judge the debate and witness how passionate they were about driving positive change across our communities.”


Notes to editors

Further enquiries to:

07919 626179


About Royal Armouries


About West Yorkshire Violence Reduction Unit

About the Royal Armouries

Entry to the museum is free but some activities carry a small charge.