Hackney schoolboy to join elite debaters in world championships

Ife Grillo (second from left) and Team England

Ife Grillo (second from left) and Team England - Credit: Archant

A Dalston schoolboy has said he is “incredibly proud and happy” to be selected for England schools debating team.

Ife Grillo, 17, from Bridge Academy in Laburnum Street, Dalston, will join team-mates from Eton and Westmister in Stuttgart, Germany, where the World Schools Debating Championships will be held this July.

The team has long been the domain for privately educated pupils but Ife’s inclusion breaks the mould.

The 17-year-old already has some superb achievements to his name.

He has debated in the House of Commons, is the vice-chair of a national charity, mentors primary school students and has started his own organisation to encourage youth campaigning.

Speaking to the Gazette, Ife said: “I am incredibly proud and happy to be selected. I owe a lot to Debate Mate, they have changed my life.

“There is a lot more to debating than just debating, it provides you with valuable skills.

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“Your mentality can be something that sometimes holds you back. You can think that pupils from Eton will be better because they are privately educated and it takes a lot to break that mentality.

“Debate Mate made me feel I was never limited and could achieve any of my aspirations.”

He is the first member of the team to have been coached by the Debate Mate, which targets schools with above average numbers of children entitled to free school meals.

Grillo is Debate Mate’s first student to be selected for Team England.

CEO and founder of Debate Mate Margaret McCabe, said: “We are really proud of Ife as we are of all our amazing Debate Mate students. “With the support of our mentors, his Debate Mate peers, and the wider debating community, he has worked incredibly hard and we are sure he will do himself and his country proud.”