Whether you’re a debating pro or have never spoken in public before, Debating Matters is a challenge! The competition has been pioneering a format for debate that takes ideas, argument and young people seriously. The focus is on content and substance over style, encouraging young people to engage in an intelligent contest of ideas and holding their ideas up to critical scrutiny. The format demonstrates that what Debating Matters won’t do is patronise young people.

The competition doesn’t create youth orientated topics for you to debate, but real-world issues which society at large is discussing. Nor do we offer praise just because you’re young and giving a speech – we will judge you on what you say, and how well you defend your arguments when held to account by your peers and a panel of adult judges. These core aspects of the Debating Matters format demonstrate that we think young people have something to say about the world they live in.

During a Debating Matters round, you’ll be put under real pressure by a panel of three judges – professionals from a wide variety of fields – from journalists to scientists, business people to politicians. They will push you beyond your comfort zone, forcing you to defend your arguments under fire and provide you with frank and honest feedback. You’ll also face your peers, both the opposing team and the audience, and again be forced to demonstrate that you know your stuff.

To help you with your preparations, Debating Matters produces a series of acclaimed Topic Guides (one for each debate motion) which are the starting point for your research. The Topic Guides will ground you in the fundamentals of the issue at hand, and site the debate in a real-world context – not an abstract one of semantics and clever word-play.

Students who have competed in Debating Matters for the first time are often daunted by the task ahead of them – and nerves are quite perfectly natural – but time and again they demonstrate they can rise to the challenge and push themselves further than they imagined they could. As one debater new to Debating Matters said of her experience:

“The debates can be nerve-racking – they force you to think through the issues from various angles, understand them as entirely as you can, and then have the bravery to try and convince the rest of the room of your point of view. Nowhere else would you find this kind of experience.”
Alexis Long, Barton Court Grammar School, Canterbury

You can also see what our debates look like by watching the videos.


For additional information about what being a Debating Matters debater means, see Advice for Students or the Resource Pack. If you want to see the advice we provide for judges in how they make their decision about who wins a debate, see Advice for Judges. See what others make of their experiences of Debating Matters via our Facebook page and Twitter.