The following rules apply generally to the Debating Matters competition.
1. ENTERING THE COMPETITION
To confirm you wish to enter one of our championships, you must return a fully completed and signed entry form, together with an entry fee payment of £75. By entering the championship the teacher in charge of a team agrees to manage a team for the duration of the championship. 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 on time and are supervised for the duration of the event. Late withdrawals seriously disrupt the championships and the organisers should be informed of any difficulties as soon as possible.
2. ENTRY FEE
The £75 entry fee entitles you to receive: access to the championship’s resources and advice for schools online; Topic Guide resources for the championship you participate in; winners certificates where appropriate.
3. DATE AND LOCATION OF EVENT
Entry forms must be completed for specific events. The date and location is specified on the entry form. Full details of dates, times and locations will be sent to competing schools once participation is confirmed.
The Debating Matters Championships are 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 large groups should be confirmed 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
Each school or college enters one team consisting of six to eight students, with four guaranteed to debate in the Round Robin stages. The additional students should prepare for latter debates on the assumption that the team succeeds in the previous stage. Even if the team does not get through to the latter stages of the day, this preparation can be invaluable for those team members in making points from the audience and potentially winning one of the individual prizes.
6. DEBATE TOPICS AND DRAW
The debate motions for the Championship are chosen by to reflect a balance between scientific, political and cultural issues. Debating Matters performs draws 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 school’s 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.
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.
Debating Matters 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.
Competing teams will be expected to meet their own travel and other expenses for the Championship. Light refreshments will be provided throughout the day.