The best teams in the competition compete in Finals Day, held at the historic Oxford Union. The Union is the world's most prestigious debating society, with an unparalleled reputation for bringing international guests and speakers to Oxford. It has been established for 189 years, aiming to promote debate and discussion not just in Oxford University, but across the globe. Recent speakers include US presidential candidate John McCain, Chinese dissident Chen Guangcheng, and WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.
Commonly known as Oxford Schools, the Oxford Union Society's annual schools' competition is the largest British Parliamentary schools level debating competition in the world. Our aim is to make debating accessible to as many schools as possible, whilst maintaining the prestige and competitiveness of the title, an aim we have pursued now for 18 years (see our archive). We invite over a thousand schools to participate every year and last year had nearly 600 teams competing. The competition offers students an excellent chance to develop their skills and confidence in public speaking, thoughtful argumentation and analytical problem solving, and is open to students of all ages.
Welcome to the Oxford Union Schools Debating Competition 2013-14!Registration for this year's competition has now closed. Thank you to all schools who have entered; if you missed out, come back in September next year!
The Oxford Schools Debating Competition offers bursaries to those schools that, because of their financial situation, would not otherwise be able to participate in the competition. These bursaries range from a waiver of the entry fee, to a small grant to help with the costs of attending, such as transport costs. There are a limited number of bursaries available, and these are awarded at the sole discretion of the convenors. In order to apply for a bursary, the bursary box should be checked on the entry form, and further details will be made available. More money than ever is available this year for bursaries.
This year, registration will include a free electronic copy of our Guide to Schools Debating, previously priced at £7.99. The guide is written by two of Oxford's most experienced debaters, George Molyneux and Jonathan Bailey, and is an excellent introduction to debating, a useful coaching aid and a highly incisive reference for the more advanced debater.
The Oxford Schools Debating Competition itself is split into several stages:
1. The Workshops
Usually at around the start of December or in January, teams of Oxford debaters travel around the country giving debating workshops at schools that kindly agree to host these. Normally, we provide one workshop in each region, and allow schools to bring up to ten students (including the team they are entering) and a member of staff. The workshops are aimed to be useful to all levels of debating and we would urge even those debaters who consider themselves 'advanced speakers' to attend. Workshops normally last for a couple of hours and are not compulsory to attend.
2. The Regional Rounds
The largest component of the overall competition, the regional rounds take place across the UK and Ireland. Each school is placed in a region geographically and the rounds are hosted by a local school. These rounds involve competing in two debates (with 15 minutes preparation time - 'short prep'), after which the judges will send the top teams forward to Finals Day. Detailed feedback is normally given so thateveryone, whether they progress to Finals Day or not, will find the experience useful, and be able to use it to improve their debating.
3. Finals Day - 15th March 2014
Held in Oxford in March, the Finals Day takes place at the Oxford Union. We invite around 90 (subject to total registration numbers) of the best teams from the UK, Ireland and Canada to compete for the title. In previous years, teams from further afield have found it necessary to travel down the day before the competition and stay overnight in Oxford in one of the guesthouses within the city.