The Premier's Debating Challenge

Years 5 to 12

Open to all NSW public schools with the aim of developing public speaking and reasoning skills of students.


Competition Information

The Premier's Debating Challenge is open to all NSW government schools with the aim of developing the reasoning and public speaking skills of students from Years 5 to 12. Entries in the 2022 challenge have closed, but if you need to explore the possibility of a late entry please call the Speaking Competitions Officer on 02 8512 1172.

What age groups can compete in the Premier's Debating Challenge?

The Premier's Debating Challenge has four different state-wide age divisions: Years 5 and 6, Years 7 and 8, Years 9 and 10, and Years 11 and 12.

How do the debates work?

Every debate in the challenge is a one hour preparation debate. Teams do not know the topic or which side of the debate they are on until one hour before the debate starts. Once the preparation time is up, three speakers from each team take turns to speak, with a fourth teammate helping out during both preparation and the debate. Debates can be held in-person or over Zoom to suit the schools involved.

How long do the students speak for?

The speaking times differ in each age division of the challenge as outlined below.

Age division Warning bell Speaking time Continuous bell
Years 5 and 6 3 minutes 4 minutes 5 minutes
Years 7 and 8 4 minutes 6 minutes 7 minutes
Years 9 and 10 6 minutes 8 minutes 9 minutes
Years 11 and 12 6 minutes 8 minutes 9 minutes

How many teams can a school enter?

Schools can enter up to two teams in each of the age divisions. Many schools choose to enter two teams in the Years 11 and 12 division, two teams in the Years 9 and 10 division, and two teams in the Years 7 and 8 division so that a large group of students throughout the school can be involved and work together on their skills.

Who can be in the debating team?

In any given debate a team will field four members. Those members can change from debate to debate, so a team can in fact be made up of a large squad of students. The students can be from any year equal to or below the age division in which the team is entered (for example, a Year 10 student can debate in a Years 11 and 12 team). When a school enters two teams in the same age division, a student cannot appear for both of those teams, so Team (A) needs to have a different and separate squad from Team (B).

How do schools enter the challenge?

Schools can enter the challenge by completing the online entry forms which can be found using the red button at the top of this page. For the Years 11 and 12 age division, that deadline is Monday 14 February 2022. The deadline for the other divisions is Tuesday 1 March 2022. We’ll email you as soon as we’ve processed your school’s entries.

How much does the challenge cost?

The entry fee for the Premier's Debating Challenge is $95.00 per team. Schools will automatically be debited for this amount once they submit their entry form. Please advise your school’s finance department that this will occur, and note that fees are due on entry and cannot be refunded even where teams might subsequently withdraw.

What are the prizes?

All students involved in the challenge will receive a certificate acknowledging their participation. Certificates of congratulations will then be awarded to teams who win their zones. Medallions will be awarded to teams who reach the state final, and a perpetual trophy will be awarded to the state champions in each age division.

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