Competition Rules

The following rules will apply for the Institute of Ideas Debating Matters Competition 2012/13

1. Entering the competition

To confirm you wish to enter this year’s competition you must return a fully completed and signed entry form, together with an entry fee payment of £45. By entering the competition the teacher in charge of a team agrees to manage a team for the duration of their involvement in the competition, and to submit a team at each stage of the competition they get through to. This involves selecting a team of students, passing on all necessary information and materials to these students, ensuring that the team arrives at the event(s) on time and are supervised for the duration of the event(s). Late withdrawals seriously disrupt the competition and the organisers should be informed of any difficulties as soon as possible.

2. Entry fee

The £45 entry fee entitles you to receive: access to the to access the competition’s resources and advice for schools online; Topic Guide resources for each of stage of the competition you participate in; certificates of participation for your team at the Regional and National stages; winners certificates where appropriate. The fee is non-refundable. No cash should be sent. Make cheques payable to Academy of Ideas Ltd.

3. Dates of events

Debating Matters will set the date of all 72 Qualifying Rounds in advance of the autumn term. The dates of Regional Finals and of the National Final will be confirmed in due course, with every effort made to maximise convenience for competing teams.

4. Teams

The Debating Matters Competition is for post-16 school and college students. 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.

Competing teams are encouraged to bring along additional students to take part from the audience, although numbers should be agreed with the host school beforehand. These students can be from any year of the school and all students attending an event are eligible for best individual contribution certificates.

5. Number of students on a team

In the Qualifying Rounds each school or college enters one team consisting of four students. In the Regional Heats and National Final each team may consist of a minimum of four and a maximum of six students. Continuity in the students involved through the different stages of the competition is encouraged, although teams in the latter stages do not have to consist of students that took part in the previous stage.

6. Debate topics and draw

The debate motions for the Qualifying Rounds, Regional Finals and National Final are chosen by the Institute of Ideas and will reflect a balance between scientific, political and cultural issues.

At each stage of the competition the Institute of Ideas will perform an independently adjudicated draw to determine which teams compete against each other, as well as to determine whether a team is allocated to argue for or against each debate motion.

7. Debate motions and preparing for the wrong side

On very rare occasions some schools prepare for the wrong side of their debate motion. This can best be avoided by reading the full motion wording, and not just the abbreviated title as this is not always a clear indication of what a team will be arguing ‘For’ or ‘Against’. As an example, the debate Votes for Prisoners: “No prisoner should have the vote” would have the team arguing ‘For’ the motion arguing against votes for prisoners. Note also that the short title for the motion gives no indication of this – only by reading the full motion could a team understand this.

In the event that a team has prepared for the wrong side of their debate they must nevertheless argue for the side of the debate they were allocated or choose to forfeit the debate to the other team. It is the competing schools responsibility to ensure they are clear what side of the motion they are arguing.

8. Audio visual presentations

Use of audio visual equipment is not permitted to be used by debaters as part of their presentation. Use of sound or projection both detracts from the spirit of the competition and is disruptive to the timekeeping of each debate.

9. Judging

The Institute of Ideas is responsible for selecting judges throughout the competition, but is happy to consider suggestions from all participants regarding prospective judges. To ensure impartiality, judges should not be a teacher, employee or Governor at one of the participating schools and should not have a child who is currently a pupil at one of the participating schools.

The Debating Matters Competition involves a broad spectrum of judges from a wide range of professional backgrounds who bring different expertise and insights. Judges are invited for their ability to offer critical insights and ask probing questions, rather than for any particular experience of formal debating or specific knowledge about the debate topics. Judges are encouraged to reach a consensus decision. However, if this is not possible a majority decision should be awarded. The judges’ decision is final.

10. Organisation

Qualifying Rounds are hosted by one of the participating schools with support provided by the Institute of Ideas. The local organiser from the host school is responsible for providing a venue which can hold up to 40 people, setting out the room as outlined in the Debating Matters Competition Handbook, providing refreshments and a light sandwich tea for the teams, and for the provision of materials essential for the smooth-running of the event. It is hoped that the hosting of Qualifying Rounds will operate on a rotating basis, with all participants taking their turn. An information sheet and phone support is provided to hosting schools.

With 72 Qualifying Rounds taking place in the autumn term it is unfortunately not possible for an Institute of Ideas member of staff to attend every Qualifying Round. We will therefore prioritise attendance at those Qualifying Rounds where the host school is new to Debating Matters or has a particular need for additional support. In all other instances we will ensure that a Debating Matters alumnus and/or experienced Debating Matters judge is in attendance to assist with the running of the event.

The Institute of Ideas will be responsible for organising judges.

The Regional Heats and National Final will be organised by the Institute of Ideas.

11. Expenses

Competing teams will be expected to meet their own travel and other expenses for the Qualifying Rounds and Regional Heats. Host schools will be expected to meet the expenses involved in hosting a Qualifying Round, for example those incurred through providing light refreshments and sandwiches.

Judges may claim expenses from the Institute of Ideas for attending events, but are not paid for their involvement.


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