CHILDREN from 15 York primary schools will be squaring up to each-other at the Merchants Adventurers' Hall next week to debate everything from what makes York special to who'd win in a straight fight between a Viking and a Roman soldier.

The annual primary school public speaking competition, organised by the York Civic Trust, aims to give children the opportunity to hone their public debating skills.

They have to research their speeches themselves - then deliver them in front of an audience and a panel of judges.

"It's a great experience for them," said Verna Campbell, chair of the Civic Trust's education committee, which organises the competition.

"They have to learn how to research and write their speech, and then stand up in public and deliver it. That's quite a challenge for children as young as this, but it is great for their self-confidence - and it's also a lot of fun!"

Last year's winners - Isabel Jatto and Maeve Reeve-Smith from St Wilfrid's RC Primary School in Monkgate - even got to appear on local radio afterwards.

St Wilfrid's teacher Marie Harrison admitted they'd had a whale of time - and had learned a lot, too.

"It is an absolutely fantastic event," she said. "The children get to choose from a really good range of interesting topics, but then they do the research themselves.

"It gives them a stage upon which to really show what they can do. Isabel and Maeve were on the radio last year. They were absolutely thrilled - and we felt very proud of them!"

This year's competition will be held at the Merchant Adventurer's Hall on Wednesday July 6, from 6pm. Parents, relatives and friends are all welcome to come and watch the fun.

The debate topics:

- Is York no more than a museum for tourists?

- Who is your favourite character in York’s Mystery Plays?

- Why is York special?

- If I had £1 million to spend in York city centre, I would spend it on… - Roman soldier or Viking warrior - which one would win?