New to debating?


This section provides information for those new to debating and those looking to develop their skills. It contains resources for individuals and teams, as well as for teachers considering starting a debating club and existing coaches.

Reasons for participating

Debating is the art of researching, constructing and presenting an argument. As well as looking fantastic on your personal statement in your UCAS form for university and on a CV, it's a life skill that will help you in every aspect of life.

Here are some personal examples from Rob Marrs, a former member of the British Schools Debating Team, and who toured America with that team, of where debating has helped him in the past:

  • answering questions at interview - particularly when I was asked to speak for three minutes on why I was the best applicant for a particular job
  • having more confidence when giving presentations - something most of my friends and I have found is a part of a lot of jobs
  • breaking complex information down into short and clearly structured arguments (I hate to mention essays and homework - but this is something that helped at school, uni, and in my work life)
  • making a case to my parents on why I needed a computer for my school work

We also think debating is good fun. You get to meet new people and have the chance to go and see other schools in competitions. If you do well in debating, you might even make the Scottish schools team and attend a 'Worlds' debate - these have been held from Paris to Peru. For everyone in the competition, there is the chance to see your face in the local, and if you make the final, national papers. Everyone who takes part also gets a small gift from our sponsors.

Like all competitions, there will only be one winning team at the end, but it is the taking part that counts. Last year saw 128 teams compete, that means 127 teams not winning - but everyone left the competition with new skills, more confidence, new friends, and the feeling they had learnt from the challenge and from the experience.

Simon Quinn's debate handbook

Simon Quinn is a hugely experienced debater from Brisbane who won the best individual speaker prize at both the 1999 and 2000 World Schools Championships and has gone on to coach teams, including the Queensland Schools Team in 2002. We would like to thank Simon for allowing us to link to his materials.

Simon has given us his permission to link to his near-definitive guide to debating skills, tactics, and strategies. This provides a wealth of information on every aspect of debate, and although the format of the competitions which Simon refers to is slightly different to ours (please take care - our tournament rules clearly set out our format), we could not find a better source of information on the general approach to debating.

This is also an invaluable resource for coaches, especially those new to coaching, as it gives insight into the detail of debating - allowing you to give the most possible help to your teams.

Read the debate handbook.

Hodder Gibson

Hodder Education sponsors

The Donald Dewar Memorial Schools Debating Tournament

Find out more about Hodder Education

TC Young sponsors

The Donald Dewar Memorial Schools Debating Tournament

Find out more about TC Young