08 Mar 2018: Inspired by DM: The Leeds Salon

Many schools and organisations around the UK run their own DM inspired events and competitions, amongst which is The Leeds Salon, which we reported on in 2015

The Leeds Salon has long been a ‘Judging Partner’ of DM, helping to run competition rounds in the north of England for almost a decade. However, over recent years the Salon has run many competitions and debate practice events of its own for schools and colleges using the DM format. Foremost amongst these is the competition they run for the Headingley Festival of Ideas for Years 10&11 pupils (ages 14 to 16 years), which is now in its fifth year.

The Headingley FoI competition began in 2014 as a one-off event involving three Headingley schools. But from 2015, Leeds Salon introduced three qualifying rounds to include more schools from across north Leeds, to be held in January, leading to the final held annually at the HEART Centre, Headingley, in mid-March. And from 2016, the final has also included the winners of the annual The Tetley championship for south and central Leeds schools – making it a Leeds-wide competition.

For many of the schools taking part, this gives valuable experience to pupils who’ll go on to compete in DM. But for those schools without a sixth-form the competition provides a unique opportunity for their younger pupils to compete under a competition format aimed at older students. So how well do the pupils do? Leeds Salon co-founder, Paul Thomas, says that “while many pupils understandably struggle a bit more with topics aimed at older students, nevertheless every year we see debates as good as those we see annually in DM itself. It really shows what young people are capable of.”

However, running their own competitions not only enables Leeds Salon to introduce new and non-DM schools to our format, it has allowed them to develop relationships with Salon panelists, their audience and other institutions in Leeds through building a large list of local judges ready and willing to put young people under adult pressure.

For Leeds Salon, what started off as a one-off school debating event has turned into an important part of what The Leeds Salon does and is: to aim to enthuse people with ideas and debate.

For more information about the competitions run by The Leeds Salon see their schools page, or contact Paul Thomas at


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