Why Debating Matters?

Resource pack section 2A

The Debating Matters format is distinct from traditional schools debating in a number of important respects: the competition emphasises substance over style; looks at the real-world issues shaping the contemporary political landscape and subjects students to an important intellectual challenge. Debating Matters demands research skills from the participants, an exploration of topical issues, and a willingness to engage in rational debate with opponents. Judges play a very important role in the competition’s structure, asking debaters challenging questions on their arguments, and pushing them to substantiate their case.

In deciding to use the Debating Matters format it is worth considering three key principles of the competition, which could help to inform your activities in school:


We want students to argue about issues and disagreements that are being fiercely debated in the media, in business and between politicians.


Debating Matters is organised around the central idea that content matters more than style. All students are provided with a substantial Topic Guide, which they are expected to use as a starting point for in-depth research around an issue. Within the format of the competition most of the time is given over to the rigorous crossexamination of students’ arguments by the judges, the other team and the audience, rather than to formal speeches.


Central to the Debating Matters Competition are our judges, who are instructed to take young people seriously by crossexamining their arguments, and pushing them to substantiate their case. While students report that they find this interaction challenging, it is also the aspect of the competition that they find most rewarding. Our judges also state that they relish the opportunity to engage with young people on the issues that really matter in the world.

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