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.

Because we believe that every child deserves equal access to a top education, Debate Mate supports the youth of today to find their voice 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
Educational Development Director
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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. There, she was President of the Nottingham Debating Union where she successfully launched a schools programme and represented 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.

Marie-France Roche
Deputy Educational Development Director
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Marie-France has been involved with Debate Mate since 2014-2015, when she started as a mentor before becoming a Programme Director on the Primary Programme in 2015-2016. She also co-led the international programme in Kenya in Summer 2016. Marie-France graduated from Western University, in Canada, with a degree in Media and the Public Interest. She is very excited to be working as the Deputy Educational Development Director this year and will be overseeing the Core Programme.

Joseph O’Toole
Executive Programme Director
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Joe graduated from the University of Bristol with a degree in English Literature, mentoring for 2 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. Whilst at university Joe co-ran a sell-out student club night, and spent two summers performing at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. 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.

Adebayo Odusola
Executive Programme Director
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Ade has been involved with Debate Mate in various capacities since 2008 when he started on the programme as a student. He went on to mentor for Debate Mate in both the UK and Nigeria, while he read Economics and Philosophy at the University of Nottingham. During his time at university Ade took a special interest in issues of Social Philosophy and starred in the ‘Kings and Queens of Speech’, a documentary about Debate Mate on Sky 1. Ade joined the Debate Mate team in 2016 and is currently an Executive Programme Director overseeing the Accelerate programme and DebateBox programmes.

Hugo Van Mol
Senior Programme Director
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Hugo graduated from University College London in 2017 with a degree in Ancient History. He mentored with Debate Mate for three years, teaching in both primary and secondary schools across London. Hugo has worked with Debate Mate on a number of different projects, with organisations including the Royal Parks Foundation, Deloitte, and the Premier League. 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 currently oversees mentor recruitment and training as well as delivering our teacher training programmes and supports the Core Programme.

Millie Dyos-Szolkowska
Senior Programme Director
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Millie graduated from King’s College London with a degree in International Relations in 2017. Millie has mentored for Debate Mate on both the Core and Accelerate programmes in schools across the UK, as well as on a number of their different projects, working with various organisations such as The Royal Parks Foundation, Intelligence Squared and The Premier League. During her time at university Millie was also Head of Research for KCL Simulations, a student run society that designs and hosts mock crisis simulations. Millie has also mentored internationally in Korea and currently oversees the Manchester Ssecondary Programme as well as supporting on the Core Programme.

George Benson
Senior Programme Director
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George first joined Debate Mate in 2010 where he attended the club at his secondary school in London. After winning the national Debate Mate Cup in his final year, he went on to join our Graduate School and spent three years mentoring in primary and secondary schools across London. George has also previously helped to train both the Scottish and Welsh national debating teams and was a judge at the two most recent European debating championships. This is his second year working at Debate Mate and he’ll now be running our Secondary Programme in the West Midlands as well as the Debate Mate Plus Programme in London.

Karishma Dharni
Senior Programme Director
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Karishma graduated from the University of Nottingham in 2015 with a degree in Modern Foreign Languages. As part of her degree, she spent a year abroad where she studied in Valencia and Tübingen and worked at Amnesty International in Madrid. After graduating, Karishma completed the Teach First Leadership Development Programme and taught Spanish and French at Droylsden Academy in Manchester. During her time at the school, she saw the Debate Mate Core Programme in action and joined the team as Senior Programme Director in September 2018 to head up the bespoke student training and partnerships.

Ronke Ayoola
Programme Director
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Ronke graduated from the University of Manchester with a degree in History and American Studies in 2017. During her time at university she mentored for the Debate Mate Primary and Accelerate programmes. Ronke was also the head of the American Studies Society at Manchester and helped to oversee their activities. Following her graduation, she developed her passion for education as an English language teacher at a primary school in Barranquilla, Colombia and also has experience as an educational volunteer in both Ghana and London. Currently, Ronke oversees the West Midlands Primary Programme and looks forward to making it bigger and better than ever!

Elsie Griffin
Programme Director
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Elsie recently graduated from King’s College London with a degree in Law with European Legal Studies, completing a year abroad in Italy. Whilst at university, Elsie mentored on the Core Primary Programme and was also an active member of both her university netball club and law societies. Elsie also recently spent two months teaching English and debating world issues with Japanese students in various schools across Japan. She is currently Programme Director for both the Leeds and Nottingham and is very excited to deliver the programme to students all over the UK!

Lizzie Holmes
Programme Director
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Lizzie recently graduated from the University of Bristol with a degree in English Literature and Theatre. During her time at university, Lizzie mentored on the Bristol Programme as well as mentoring on Debate Mate's International Programme in Nepal. In Bristol, Lizzie was Head of Operations for the university’s radio station, Burst. She was responsible for the station’s day to day running, which produced over 140 hours of broadcasting a week. Lizzie also volunteered as a co-presenter and newsreader on the One Love Breakfast show for the community radio station BCfm. Lizzie is looking forward to taking over the London Primary and Bristol Programmes this year, and launching the Debate Mate podcast.

Kristian Radcliffe
Programme Director
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Kristian graduated from the University of Manchester with a degree in Physiology in 2017. Whilst at university, he mentored for Debate Mate and was a Regional Representative in the Manchester region. Kristian also dedicated much of his time to training and competing for the Moss Side Boxing Club. In 2015, he spent 2 months as a Camp Counsellor at the Homes for Homeless summer camp in New York. Since graduating, Kristian has spent a year in Moscow as an English, Science and Mathematics teacher. As a Programme Director, he is excited to expand the Liverpool Secondary Programme and assist in the DebateBox project.

James Waterfield
Programme Director
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James recently graduated from the University of Manchester 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. At University he was head of Social Media and Communications for the PPE Society and Fundraising Officer for The Anthony Nolan Charity. James also mentored on a number of different projects, working with various organisations such as Deloitte and The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development. This year he is looking forward to overseeing the Manchester Primary Programme.

Georgia Parkin
Executive Graduate Trainee
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Georgia joined the Debate Mate team as an intern after graduating in Biomedical Sciences from The University of Plymouth in 2017. She has now joined the team as an Executive Graduate Trainee, working closely with the senior team to manage the Platinum 100 Club, Debate Mate's high net-worth network of supporters, as well as working in the schools programme. She is excited this year to mentor in the London primary programme and to launch the Debate Mate Podcast.

Haider Nazerali
Assistant Programme Director
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Haider is now starting his sixth year with Debate Mate. He began as a student on the Core Programme in 2014 and then joined the Graduate School in 2015, which he remained part of for four years. During this time he represented Debate Mate in seven national finals and was invited twice to trial for the England National Debating Team. While in Sixth Form, he mentored for Debate Mate on the London Primary Programme, and organised his own debating competition - the Harry Potter Schools Debating Competition. Haider has applied to study medicine, and is currently on a gap year fulfilling his dream of working full time for Debate Mate. He is responsible for running the Graduate School and the East London programme.

Adam Roble
Gap Year Assistant
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Adam was a student on the Debate Mate Core Programme in 2011 as a Year 7 pupil at ARK Walworth Academy. Using many of the skills he gained on the Core Programme, in 2016 he successfully applied for an academic scholarship to study A Levels in History, English Literature, Spanish and Government and Politics at Eton College. He is currently on a gap year before going to university and is very excited about the opportunity to get involved with Debate Mate.

Board of trustees

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

Britt Lintner has held a number of executive roles in finance over the last 15 years, predominantly at Lehman Brothers in New York and London, and currently as Managing Director at Man/GLG investment management, where she specialises in institutional sales and marketing.

Lady Fiona Edwards-Stuart
Charities specialist

Fiona has been involved in a variety of voluntary projects and community activities for over 50 years. She has 15 years of experience with Family Service Units, where she was Chair. Fiona is a Fellow of the CIPD.

David Haysey
Partner, Marylebone Partners LLP

Formerly responsible for Marylebone Partners’ direct investments in public markets, David remains a Partner of the firm in a non-executive capacity. He was previously Head of Public Equities at RIT Capital Partners plc.

Marcus Trotter
Innovations Specialist, Deutsche Bank

Marcus graduated with a BA in French and German from University College London, where he was also a mentor for Debate Mate. He takes a keen interest in social enterprises and joined the Board in 2017. Marcus is now Innovation Specialist at Deutsche Bank Innovation Labs.

Jude Thompson
Managing Director, Indigo Talent

Jude was a founding member of Indigo Talent, a media agency that finds and recruits talent for some of the largest production companies in the UK and beyond. Jude has been on the Board of Trustees at Debate Mate since 2016.

Sara Geater
Chief Operating Officer, All3Media Group

Sara trained as a barrister and is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts. Sara’s career has spanned TV, film and digital in both business and creative roles. As COO of All3Media since 2015, Sara works closely with the businesses to drive the growth of the business in the UK and oversees.