Our Mission

The UK has one of the lowest rates of social mobility amongst OECD countries. This means that children growing up in poverty are less likely to achieve in school, to attend university, and to find productive employment as adults.

By the age of seven, children who are eligible for Free School Meals are more than twice as likely as their better-off peers to be behind on expected reading levels. Over 60 percent of these children will fail to achieve five good GCSEs, which significantly increases their chances of becoming unemployed upon leaving school.

Debate Mate aims to tackle educational disadvantage in some of Britain’s most deprived communities.

It does this by recruiting and training university students to run extra-curricular debate workshops in schools with an above average percentage of children eligible for Free School Meals.

Our programmes increase speaking and listening attainment and improve a range of higher-order thinking skills and non-cognitive abilities such as confidence, teamwork, and leadership.

In doing so, our programmes address the widening skills gap between education and employment, whilst raising aspirations and helping students to make informed post-18 choices.

We believe that every child deserves equal access to a top education. Debate Mate supports the young people of today to find their voices, so that they can become the leaders of tomorrow.

Learn about our programmes

Our team

Margaret McCabe
Founder and Chief Executive Officer
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Margaret has over twenty years' experience as a commercial barrister, combined with two decades in the voluntary sector including Centre Point and the NSPCC Justice for Children programme.

Jess Dix
Executive Director
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Jess graduated from the University of Warwick with a degree in Comparative American Studies. As part of her degree she spent a year studying History at UCLA in the USA. Jess is a Teach First ‘07 Ambassador, she worked as an English and History teacher at The Lammas School and Sports College in East London where she was appointed Whole School Literacy Coordinator, and was committed to creating a debating community within the school. Jess joined the Debate Mate team in September 2010 to grow the programme across the UK, and currently oversees the running of the charity and their strategic vision.

Enayah Byramjee
Group Director of Operations
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Enayah graduated from the University of East Anglia with a degree in English and American Literature. She completed her PGCE in 2005 and has worked in inner-London secondary schools since then, teaching English up to A Level. Enayah was Deputy of the English and Literacy Faculty for 5 years at Acland Burghley School before joining the Debate Mate team in September 2015, where she oversees the running of Debate Mate's UK programmes and operations.

Benedict Sarhangian
Head of Innovation
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Benedict has been involved with Debate Mate since its first year, and has taught the programme in over a dozen schools. He won a scholarship to read for a Masters’ in International History at the LSE, having previously read International Relations & History at the same university. At LSE, Benedict founded and edited The London Globalist, an international affairs magazine with chapters across the world. In 2011, Benedict took part in Debate Mate Israel/Palestine, and before joining the team in 2012, spent a month teaching as part of the Debate Mate Jamaica programme.

Seun Iyaniwura
Group Education Director
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Seun graduated from the University of Nottingham with a degree in Politics. She was President of the Nottingham Debating Union, successfully launching a schools programme, and representing Nottingham at the European and World Universities Debating Championships. Seun was a mentor on the Nepal 2010 programme and took the team to the 2011 World Schools Championship held in Dundee. She has worked for Debate Mate in Africa, the Middle East and Asia and is currently responsible for Debate Mate’s international development. Seun joined the team in September 2011.

Joseph O’Toole
Director of Creative Design & Delivery | Debate Mate Limited
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Joe graduated from the University of Bristol with a degree in English Literature, mentoring for two years during his time as a student. In 2012, Joe was selected to represent the United Kingdom in the Benjamin Franklin Transatlantic Fellowship (BFTF), a debate and international relations programme in America sponsored by the State Department. Since joining the Debate Mate team full-time, he has run the Accelerate Programme, designed a Debate Boxing Programme, and delivered the Debate Mate Programme across Rwanda.

Hugo Van Mol
Director of Operations and Programme Delivery I Debate Mate Limited
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Hugo graduated from University College London in 2017 with a degree in Ancient History. He was a mentor with Debate Mate for three years - teaching in both primary and secondary schools across London - before joining the office full-time. In 2016, he spent three weeks mentoring in Rwanda, and in 2017 was part of the Debate Mate team that helped to run the Parliamentary Debate World Congress in Japan. Hugo also led Debate Mate's international programme in Nepal in 2018, and currently oversees all of Debate Mate's mentor recruitment, assessment, and training, as well as delivering our Teacher Training Programmes, and supporting the Core Programme.

Esther Mark
Programme Director Consultant | Debate Mate Limited
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Esther has been involved with Debate Mate in various capacities since 2011, when she participated in the programme whilst in secondary school and sixth form as a competitive debater. She went on to complete her undergraduate degree in English Literature and Philosophy at Royal Holloway, where she served as social secretary in their debating society. She is now completing/has completed her master's in Global Health and Social Justice from Kings College London, focusing on nutrition and bioethics. Esther mentored with Debate Mate throughout her time at university and has now joined the Debate Mate Limited office part-time whilst co-owning and running her own small business.

Maeve Carroll
Senior Associate | Debate Mate Limited
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Maeve graduated from the University of Manchester in September 2021 with a Masters degree in Sociology, with a key focus on UK education policy. Maeve mentored for Debate Mate throughout university on both the Core and Accelerate Programmes in schools across the UK. She also worked with students and corporate professionals around the world on our Debate Mate Online, Education UK and Debate Mate Limited Programmes. As a Programme Director, she works primarily on the Debate Mate Limited side of the company, delivering communication and leadership to individuals across the globe as well as supporting on the London Core Secondary Programme.

Anastasia Shea
Associate | Debate Mate Limited
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Anastasia is a recent graduate of UCL where she studied Politics, Philosophy and Economics, with Social Science Data. She was a mentor during her three years of study, leading secondary and primary core programmes, as well as getting involved in many competitions and events throughout the years. She has joined Debate Mate Limited as an Associate.

Rana Galgal
Communication Training Facilitator | Debate Mate Limited
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Rana graduated from St Georges University London with a degree in Clinical Biosciences. During her studies she mentored for two years for Debate Mate Online and Core Programmes. She has now joined the team as a Communications Facilitator for Debate Mate Limited delivering communication and confidence training to clients from various companies.
Alongside this, she supports the running of Core programme clubs as well as overseeing the Virtual Core programme.

James Waterfield
Director of Programmes | Debate Mate Schools
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James graduated from the University of Manchester in 2018 with a degree in Philosophy, Politics and Economics. James has mentored for Debate Mate on both the Core and Accelerate Programmes in schools across the UK and has also mentored internationally in Rwanda, Nepal, China, and South Korea. Since joining the Debate Mate team full-time in 2018, James has overseen the Manchester Programme, London Programme and the Nepal Summer International Programme. James also oversees and manages the social media and marketing for Debate Mate. This year, he is overseeing all the work we deliver across the UK on Debate Mate Schools.

Leannah Dahn
Executive Programme Director | Debate Mate Schools
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Leannah mentored with Debate Mate for 3 years, for two of which she was a Senior Mentor, whilst studying Swahili and Development Studies at SOAS. She mentored on numerous Debate Mate programmes, including the Core Programme, DM+, Accelerate and Debate Box. She particularly enjoyed and focussed on mentoring on the Accelerate and Debate Box programmes. Aside from university, Leannah was heavily involved in boxing and various organisations that work with young people from diverse backgrounds in the UK and abroad. In 2017, she spent 6 months volunteering in schools and youth clubs in Zambia. After graduating from SOAS in 2021, she joined the office and became a Programme Director. After running the London Primary Programme and the West Midlands Programme, Leannah is now in her third year in the office as an Executive Programme Director, supporting with the management of the team and running Accelerate and Debate Box.

Abby McGovern
Director of Education UK
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As the Director of Education UK, overseeing our work with schools beyond the Core Programme, partnerships and teacher training, Abby graduated from UCL with a degree in Anthropology. Since, she has worked across a range of industries, including journalism, PR, brand management and West End theatre production. Abby has mentored on the Core Programme across London Primary and Secondary, both in-person and online, in addition to mentoring on Debate Mate's International Programme in Nepal 2019. Alongside Debate Mate, Abby has co-founded a Creativity Conference, is a trained Yoga Instructor and has worked as a Primary Teacher - incorporating all expertise into her position with Education UK.

Alia Chohan
Programme Director | Education UK
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As the current Programme Director of Education UK, Alia has previously mentored for our London Core and Education UK Programmes, whilst completing her Masters in Law. Debating competitively during her BSc in Law and Criminology at Nottingham University, she worked as a Parliamentary researcher and as a BAME representative for her constituency, empowering people from diverse backgrounds through reform. Alia also has a passion for running Model UN and has represented her school internationally.

Daria Kosova
Senior Programme Director | Debate Mate Schools
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Daria mentored with Debate Mate throughout her time at King's College London, where she studied German and History. She taught in person in multiple schools across London as well as virtually from Berlin during her year abroad. Alongside this, she worked on various outreach projects that aimed to make higher education and studying languages more accessible for state school students. In her role as a Senior Programme Director, Daria now oversees the Core Programme in all London secondary schools and runs Debate Mate Plus, which supports 16-18 year olds with exploring their post-18 options and develops skills that prepare students for applications, interviews and confidently pursuing their aspirations.

Elissa Abbara
Senior Programme Director | Debate Mate Schools
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Elissa graduated from BPP University with a Postgraduate Diploma in Law, mentoring on our Core and Education UK Programmes for two years. She debated competitively whilst undertaking her undergraduate degree in Economics and Politics at Queen Mary, University of London, and at UC San Diego in her year abroad. In 2018, she represented her university on the Common Purpose Leadership Programme in Kuala Lumpur, where she met with representatives of charities and purpose-led private companies to understand how to design smart cities. Last year, she ran the London Primary Programme. As a Senior Programme Director, she now oversees the London Secondary Programme and our Graduate School Programme, as well as helping design our judge training, and debate motions.

Ffion Beynon
Programme Director | Debate Mate Schools
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Ffion mentored with Debate Mate for four years whilst studying for her undergraduate and postgraduate degrees. Whilst studying BA Ancient History and History at the University of Manchester, Ffion took on several Core clubs a week as well as mentoring on The Accelerate Programme. She carried this on to Liverpool where she studied MA Medieval and Renaissance Studies at the University of Liverpool. Through mentoring on several online clubs during her studies, Ffion has had the opportunity to mentor on a wide range of programmes and met many inspirational Debate Mate students. As a Programme Director, Ffion oversees both the Manchester Primary and Secondary Schools on the Core Programmes.

Fahmida Rahman
Programme Director | Debate Mate Schools
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Fahmida mentored with Debate Mate for three years on the Core Programme, Accelerate, Education UK, and Online programmes. Whilst mentoring with Debate Mate, Fahmida completed her studies in BA History at SOAS (School of Oriental and African studies). During her studies, Fahmida had also spent time working with charities and organisations that supported the development of young people. As a Programme Director, Fahmida is now overseeing the London Primary Programme.

Ruairi O'Connor Harte
Programme Director | Debate Mate Schools
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Ruairi graduated from Liverpool John Moores University with a degree in Sport and Exercise Science. During his time there he mentored for Debate Mate on both The Core and The Accelerate Programme for three years, as well as working virtually with young people from all across the world. Upon completing his degree, Ruairi worked in a Special Education School where his Debate Mate mentoring experience came to the forefront. Now a Programme Director for Debate Mate, Ruairi will oversee both the Liverpool and West Midlands Programmes as well as assisting with The Accelerate and DebateBox Programmes across the UK.

Adeola Oni
Programme Director | Debate Mate Schools
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Adeola engaged actively in Debate Mate and Model United Nations in Secondary School. Afterward, Adeola dedicated two years to mentoring with Debate Mate, contributing to the Core Programme, Education UK, and Online programmes. Simultaneously, Adeola pursued her BSc in Biomedical Sciences at The University of Manchester. Presently, she holds the position of Programme Director, overseeing the London Secondary Programme.

Dale Connellan
Partnerships and Operations Lead
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Dale graduated from University College London in 2021 with a degree in History. He was a mentor with Debate Mate for two years on the London programme, teaching in secondary schools across London. Upon leaving university, he worked for the Civil Service as a policy advisor, specialising in sustainable farming in the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. He joined Debate Mate full time in October 2022 in an admin and operations role that allows him to work across a wide range of Debate Mate projects.

Lily Thetford
Fundraising Assistant & Programme Director | Debate Mate Schools
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Lily graduated from Goldsmiths, University of London in 2023 with a degree in Media & Communications. She mentored for Debate Mate throughout her time at university, teaching the core programme in London and judging at various competitions. Having a background in film and digital content production, she has worked on projects that have successfully been admitted to BAFTA qualifying film festivals. She has also been involved in organising a South London event that showcases graduate work and connects emerging creatives with industry veterans. Joining Debate Mate full time in October 2023, she oversees the Wales and Grimsby programmes, additionally assisting in fundraising and social media work.

Board of trustees

Britt Lintner, Chair
Principal, GLG Partners; founder, Britt Lintner Ltd.

Britt Lintner is Managing Director for International Business Development at EnTrust Global. Before joining EnTrust Global, Britt worked for Deutsche Bank managing EMEA distribution for Liquid Alternatives. Prior to 2015, Britt was Managing Director in the UK institutional sales team at Man Group investment management for nine years. She spent eight years at Lehman Brothers in institutional sales and sales trading in New York and London. Britt Lintner holds a BA in Economics from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a Master’s Degree from the Sotheby’s Institute of Art. Britt is also an adviser to Synchronicity Earth and lives in London with her husband and two sons.

Lady Fiona Edwards-Stuart
Charities specialist

Fiona has been involved in a variety of voluntary projects and community activities for over 50 years, since she was at school. After a MA in History from Cambridge, and a diploma in Business Studies, she worked on the development of employment and training policy for both British and European administrations, and subsequently became increasingly committed to working with NGOs, charities and social enterprise. She lives in London, and has a large extended family which includes 5 grandchildren, so she remains closely involved with educational initiatives at several levels.

Marcus Trotter
Innovations Specialist, Deutsche Bank

Marcus leads Deutsche Bank’s innovation efforts across Asia Pacific running the Singapore Innovation Lab where he is based. Marcus has held previous roles in venture capital and strategy consulting. Marcus graduated with a BA in French and German from University College during which time he was also a mentor for Debate Mate.

Jude Thompson
Managing Director, Indigo Talent

Jude Thompson is the Founder and Managing Director of Indigo Talent with clients including global production companies through to start-ups. She has a commitment to instigating change from disrupting existing hiring practices, through to being a proud Global Ambassador and trustee of Debate Mate, underlying is a value system based on integrity and passion.
Originating from the North-East via several stints living in France, the love of anything water sports related and a vibrant community, finds her currently living in Brighton.

Ade Odusola
Advisor on Space Policy

Ade Odusola joined the Department for Business Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) in 2020 to advise on Space Policy. Before joining BEIS, Ade was an Executive Programme Director at Debate Mate running the Accelerate Programme in addition to programmes in Nottingham and Kigali. Ade holds a BA in Philosophy and Economics from the University of Nottingham.

Tayo Alimi
Teacher of English Literature at Langdon Academy

Tayo is a teacher of English Literature at Langdon Academy in London, where she is also Extra Curriculum Coordinator. She is passionate about providing opportunities for children from economically disadvantaged backgrounds and started one of the first ever Debate Mate clubs in her school back in 2008. Her students went on to win the first Urban Debate League and Debate Mate Cup competitions in 2010. She was also featured as part of the televised series 'Kings and Queens of Speech' in 2015. Tayo holds a MA in Communication Studies from the University of Leeds and a BA in Theatre Arts from the University of Ibadan.

Keanna Williams
Creative Tech Entrepreneur

Keanna Williams is a Creative Tech Entrepreneur and Future Trainee Lawyer at Clifford Chance. Keanna studied International Law and Globalisation at the University of Birmingham before joining Debate Mate full time as a Programme Director. Keanna completed the Debate Mate Programme throughout her time at school, competing internationally. Keanna is completing her LPC Masters in Commercial Business Law and will be starting at Clifford Chance LLP in August of 2021