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
Read Bio

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
Read Bio

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
Educational Development Director
Read Bio

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.

Suaad Hussain
Deputy Educational Development Director
Read Bio

Suaad has joined Debate Mate as Deputy Director of Educational Development after 13 years within education. Suaad holds an English Literature and Media Studies degree and a Masters in Politics and the Mass Media from the University of Liverpool. Two-time nominee and winner of the 2020 Teacher of Year award, former RE teacher of 10 years, she worked at one of the schools where Debate Mate works within Liverpool. Suaad has championed change, most notably through her leadership of Debate Mate in school, embedding debating pedagogy and her influence across the city. Suaad has brought the competition to life in Liverpool, leading and inspiring others so that now other schools are involved.

Benedict Sarhangian
Head of Innovation
Read Bio

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
Read Bio

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
Read Bio

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
Read Bio

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
Read Bio

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
Associate | Debate Mate Limited
Read Bio

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
Read Bio

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.

James Waterfield
Director of Programmes | Debate Mate Schools
Read Bio

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
Senior Programme Director | Debate Mate Schools
Read Bio

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. She is now in her second year in the office as a Senior Programme Director running the West Midlands Programme, Accelerate and Debate Box.

Emma Loubser
Senior Programme Director | Debate Mate Schools
Read Bio

Emma recently graduated from the London School of Economics, where she studied MSc International Relations whilst working part-time as a Fundraiser for Debate Mate. During her BA History undergraduate degree at the University at Bristol, she mentored at many schools on our Core programme, both in-person and online. 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 Senior Programme Director, she runs the Secondary Programme in Wales, oversees fundraising for Debate Mate Schools, and manages alumni and funder relationships.

Abby McGovern
Director of Education UK
Read Bio

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.

Ruby Westbrook
Senior Programme Director | Education UK
Read Bio

Ruby recently graduated from the University of Birmingham where she studied BSc Psychology. During her time at University, she mentored across several programmes, including the Core Programme in West Midlands, Debate Mate Online and Debate Mate Limited. She has worked a Mental Health Volunteer on a clinical placement in Indonesia, working with young people and adults to deliver supplementary mental health workshops. Ruby now works alongside Azaan as Programme Director for Education UK, overseeing the delivery and implementation of Education UK programmes.

Daria Kosova
Programme Director | Debate Mate Schools
Read Bio

Daria mentored with Debate Mate throughout her time at King's College London, where she studied German and History. She taught in person across schools in all corners of London and also ran virtual clubs from Berlin during her year abroad. Alongside this, she also worked for an outreach programme that aimed to make studying languages more accessible, visiting schools to deliver assemblies and workshops. Now that she is a Programme Director, Daria oversees London Secondary Schools on the Core Programme and runs Debate Mate Plus, which works with 16-18 year olds and combines debate coaching with developing skills that prepare students for employment, university applications, and interviews.

Daniel Olaniyi
Programme Director | Debate Mate Schools
Read Bio

Upon studying law at Trinity College Dublin, Daniel later pursued a MSc in Criminology and Criminal Justice at the University of Oxford. During his time at university, Daniel was heavily involved in leading social mobility projects. He taught law to secondary school students as part of a Trinity "Pathways To Law" programme and was a senior mentor on the Debate Mate Schools programme. Outside of Debate Mate, Daniel is the Founder of Innumeris Education, a project created to help elite athletes avail of university opportunities alongside their sporting careers. This stemmed from his time as a former NCAA Track and Field Athlete in the USA at Washington and Lee University.

Elissa Abbara
Programme Director | Debate Mate Schools
Read Bio

Elissa graduated from BPP University with a Postgraduate Diploma in Law, mentoring on our Core and Education UK Programmes for two years during her time as a student. 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. As a Core Programme director at Debate Mate, she oversees our London primary school programme, as well as helping design our curriculum, judge training, and debate motions.

Joe Duquenoy-Taylor
Programme Director | Debate Mate Schools
Read Bio

Joe recently graduated from the University of Manchester, having studied an MA in International Political Economy after receiving the Dean's Award and an academic scholarship for being in the top 0.5% of his UG graduating year at UoM. Joe mentored for 2 and a half years throughout his undergraduate degree in Manchester and Warrington. Joe has spent the last year building the 93% Club into a registered educational social mobility charity, now supporting 10,000 state-educated students in the U.K's top universities. Owing to his own school experiences, Joe has always had a keen passion for our Accelerate Programme; after teaching the programme in Manchester, he will be co-heading the Programme this year. As a Programme Director, Joe will oversee the Liverpool region whilst also embarking on the exciting launch of Debate Mate in Grimsby in 2023.

Amanda Brick
Programme Director | Debate Mate Schools
Read Bio

Amanda recently graduated from the University of Manchester with a Masters degree in Psychology of Education, and in 2021 graduated from UCL in BSc Biomedical Sciences. Throughout university, Amanda has mentored on our Core Programme in primary and secondary schools across Manchester and London. She has also mentored on our Debate Mate Online Programme, working with students around the world. Aside from Debate Mate, Amanda has volunteered for the female-led charity Girls Friendly Society, working to empower young girls to challenge the societal barriers that females face. As a Programme Director, Amanda runs the Manchester Secondary Programme, as well as overseeing the Social Media and Marketing.

George Stevens
Programme Director | Debate Mate Schools
Read Bio

George recently graduated from the University of Manchester with a degree in Politics, Philosophy and Economics and is currently in the last stages of his Masters degree in Law. He started mentoring with Debate Mate both in person in Manchester and online in 2020, taking on numerous clubs per week. George has a background in working with disadvantaged children and young people and has also been involved with various other charities and social campaigns.

Adama Nwamoh
Assistant Programme Director | Debate Mate Schools
Read Bio

Adama is currently a Politics and International Student at Warwick University on a gap year before her final year of studies. During her time as a student, she was a mentor on the West Midlands Programme. Prior to that, she had been a Debate Mate student since she was 13, completing the Debate Mate Core and Plus programmes. Her many years of experience as both a student and a mentor has naturally led her to work with us. Aside from Debate Mate, she has been involved with international charity organisations such as The Father Ray Foundation, Pattaya and spent two weeks in Thailand volunteering in children's homes. She is with us as an Assistant Programme Director (where she is the youngest member of staff), and assists in running the Primary and Secondary West Midlands Programmes.

Toby Fitzpatrick
Freelance Videographer and Content Creator
Read Bio

Toby graduated from University College London with a Masters in Natural Sciences in 2019, having completed his third year abroad in Vancouver, Canada. During his time at university he mentored in East London at The Petchey Academy on the Debate Mate Secondary Core Programme. He spent the summer of 2019 mentoring on the Education UK programme with Intelligence Squared and on Debate Mate's International Programme in Nepal. This year today is assisting with all things media production.

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