PUPILS at secondary schools debated on topical issues with an Oxfordshire MP.

Banbury and Bicester MP Victoria Prentis held her sixth annual Cherwell Democracy Challenge.

Despite this year’s event taking place virtually due to coronavirus restrictions, North Oxfordshire secondary schools debated on whether all children should be entitled to a free school meal and whether Parliament should be relocated to Oxford.

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After deliberation from the judges, Bloxham School, near Banbury and The Cooper School in Bicester narrowly beat The Bicester School to the final.

Debating the topic of whether the UK’s Covid restrictions unnecessarily infringe upon civil liberties, the final was a closely fought contest, with Bloxham emerging as the winner.

Ms Prentis said: “I was so pleased that I could go ahead with my annual Cherwell Democracy Challenge given the current circumstances. I am always so impressed by the standard of arguments from local students.

"This year was no different. All the teams coped brilliantly with the added challenges of a virtual debate. It is great to see young people in our constituency demonstrating awareness and understanding of important national issues. Bloxham gave a particularly impressive performance in the final. I am already looking forward to next year’s competition and I hope that all secondary schools in my constituency will get involved.”

The challenge marked the end of UK Parliament Week which aims to engage young people in discussion about democracy and empowerment in the UK.

This year, Banbury was the most engaged constituency in the country, with more schools, groups and young people signed up to take part in the activities than any other constituency.