We list here the most frequently asked questions we receive, mainly from teachers, but also from student debaters too.
Q; What age do my students need to be to take part in Debating Matters?
A: The Debating Matters Competition is for post-16 school and college students, aged 16-19. Participants should be current sixth form students or equivalent – years 12 and 13 in England or S5 and S6 in Scotland. Debating Matters reserves the right to exclude teams who submit younger/older debaters.
Q: How much does it cost?
A: The cost to enter this year’s competition is just £35 (2013/14).
Q: What time of day are the autumn Qualifying Rounds held?
A: All Qualifying Rounds, with the exception of the Cheltenham Qualifying Round (see below), start at 4.30pm and are scheduled to end at 8.45pm. For a majority of schools this start time is after the school day, allowing most students to attend without missing classes. Note: the Cheltenham Qualifying Round is held each year as part of the Cheltenham Literature Festival and so, exceptionally, takes place from 1-5pm.
Q: We are familiar with Parliamentary style debating - is Debating Matters similar?
A: No. The Debating Matters Competition is different from traditional debating. For a start we have dispensed with points of order or points of information – student debaters give their initial three-minute presentations uninterrupted. But aside from this technical difference of style, Debating Matters attaches primary importance to the content of a student’s argument, and of encouraging young people to engage in real world debate, avoiding semantic game-play. Debate motions, and Topic Guides, are provided to debaters at least one month in advance of the debate motions because we expect students to have researched the issues at hand and really thoughts about the contemporary arguments surrounding it.
Two schools argue for opposing positions on an issue. Two students per debate represent each school. A Chairperson sits with the four competing students at one table and directs all proceedings, including keeping the debates to time. A panel of three judges quiz debaters after they have made their initial presentations. The audience then joins in the debate, after which the teams have an opportunity to challenge each other and defend their arguments. Finally, each team is given the opportunity to sum up their argument before the judges offer feedback and deliver their decision.
Q: How long will my students’ introductions have to be?
A: For each debate your school will field two debaters, each of whom has an uninterrupted three minute speech. Both debaters will also have a one minute summary at the very end of the debate before the judges give their feedback.