A GROUP of Oxfordshire schoolgirls will represent the UK in an international debating competition.

Teams from more than 100 schools across the country took part in heats for the European Youth Parliament.

And after winning triumph in a regional heat, a team from St Helen and St Katharine School, Abingdon, fought competition from 13 other UK schools to win the national session of the contest, held at Liverpool Hope University.

The team of Alexandra Entwistle-Thompson, Leying Lee, Rona McKee, Emma Walsh, Katie Pennick, Ciara Robinson, Lorel Scriven, Grace Smith, Clea Southall and Emily Stevenson will now represent the UK at the 72nd International Session of the European Youth Parliament in Munich next April.

Ciara Robinson said: “It is such an honour to represent the European Youth Parliament UK team in Munich.

“I can’t believe that we now have the opportunity to spend 10 days with students from 36 other countries.

“It will be an experience of a lifetime.”

During the national debate, topics up for discussion over two days of debating included the Eurozone crisis, youth unemployment, the rights of a child to play and the EU’s role in supporting a lasting legacy for London beyond the London 2012 Olympics.

Lindsey Hughes, director of students at St Helen and St Katharine, said: “We are extremely proud of our team.

“Debating is very popular at St Helen’s and teaches invaluable life skills of teamwork, presentation and respect for others.

“The St Helen’s team had a fantastic weekend, the jury commending their teamwork, quality of speeches and respectful attitude towards other teams.”

Caroline Howley, chairman of the European Youth Parliament UK board, said the standard of debate was “exceptionally good”.

She said: “For the St Helen’s team to have come out on top is a credit to their hard work and preparation.”