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Schools Debating Competition (SDC) Term Two 2024

Updated: May 6

The Schools Debating Competition (SDC) will run on Friday afternoons in term two, 2024. 

If you would like to register on behalf of a school or debating college, please complete this form:

If you would like to register on behalf of an Individual, please complete this form:

(or alternatively email



  • Competitive: the competitive division in each age group will provide competitive debates for strong and experienced debaters. 

  • Development: the development division will provide opportunities to learn and have fun. 


  • all debates take place via Zoom. Students can tune in together from their campus or from home. 


  • Prep: 4.45pm Sydney time

  • Debates: 5.30pm Sydney time

  • Done by 6.30 Sydney time 

  • May be adjusted slightly on a team-by-team basis (i.e. by reaching out to the opposition for the week and seeing if other times work for them). 

Speaking times:

  • Seniors: 5-7 minutes 

  • Year 10: 4-6 minutes

  • Year 9: 4-6 minutes

  • Year 8: 3-5 minutes

  • Year 7: 2-4 minutes

  • Primary: 2-4 minutes 


  • Schools: $200 (inc. GST) per school per term. 

  • This covers the cost of administration 

  • Individual students: $620 (inc. GST) per student for standard entry and an optional $300 (inc. GST) per student for optional training. 

  • This covers the cost of a coach (to watch, adjudicate half of their debates, and give feedback, plus to provide training from 4.45-5.45pm if the optional training package is chosen). This also covers administrative costs involved in finding teammates, managing logistics, etc. 


  • The Convenor (arranged by Speakers’ Corner) will be Anaïs Kneppers. They will handle, among other things:: results and draws (via Tabbyat), communication, and troubleshooting the Zoom on Friday afternoons.

  • Participating institutions nominate one contact to receive communications and manage on Friday afternoons. 

  • Logistical backend: competition managed by a Convenot (provided by Speakers’ Corner) using TabbyCat. Team names, team members, adjudicators, results, etc. all centrally stored. 

  • Draw: debate matchups will generally be made using power pairing. This means that matchups are not known / drawn before the start of the season, but are instead determined on a week-by-week basis, with teams paired according to win-loss records. 

Key Dates

Semester one dates are as follows (n.b. All weeks based on NSW term times and round names are a continuation from term one): 

  • Round 7: Friday the 10th May (week 2, term 2) 

  • Round 8: Friday the 17th May (week 3, term 2) 

  • Round 9: Friday the 24th May (week 4, term 2) 

  • Round 10: Friday the 31st May (week 5, term 2) 

  • Round 11: Friday the 7th June (week 6, term 2) 

  • Round 12: Friday the 14th June (week 7, term 2) 

  • Round 13: Friday the 21st June (week 8, term 2) 

  • Round 14: Friday the 28th June (week 9, term 2) 

  • Round 15: Friday the 5th July (week 10, term 2)

Institutions / teams may join at any point, and individual teams may drop in and out on a weekly basis. There will be no finals, and the team with the most wins at the end of each term in a given competition will be crowned the winners. 

Adjudication and results

Schools / institutions must provide adjudicators. There will be an n/2 rule applying to each institution—they must provide a number of adjudicators equal to half their number of overall teams. Teachers, alumni, and parents may be used as adjudicators. Adjudicators who have completed the NSW Debating Accreditation program are preferred. 

Development Division Philosophy

In the Development Division the aim is to learn and have fun. While there will be a winner awarded in each competition, this will not be the focus. 

Given the secondary importance of results, the occasional ‘incorrect’ adjudication should not be cause for concern. The competition is as much about giving adjudicators a chance to improve as debaters. 

Divisions and Teams

The competition is open not only to school teams, but also teams entered by clubs / private coaching tuition places. Institutions may enter as many or as few (including 0) teams into each division as they like—they will not be penalised or expected to field more. Because of power pairing it does not matter how many teams there are overall per division (though even numbers are better). If there are uneven numbers of teams one team will be (randomly) allocated a bye (by the software) each round. Teams from the same institution may debate each other, but Tabbycat will be programmed to only schedule internal debates if there are no other options. 

Institutions / teams can join, withdraw, or miss particular rounds as they see fit. If institutions / teams cannot make a round (due to planned or unexpected absences) then they will simply be withdrawn for that Friday. If they cannot join until later on then they will simply be added when they can. Though these changes may make it difficult for them to accrue enough points to win their division, that isn’t supposed to the point of the competition anyway. 

Composition of teams

Institutions may enter whomever they want into the Open Division (hence the name), including ISDA, FED, and Eastside students in term 2, if they’re eliminated from their competition. It is particularly designed for two groups: 

  1. Students who do not do a Friday afternoon competition in term one, e.g. CSDA, HISCES, PDC, Archdale. 

  2. Students who narrowly miss out on an ISDA, FED, Eastside, CAS, Archdale, GPS, or SDN team. 

  3. Interstate / international teams. 

The Development Division is much more restricted. Schools may only enter students who are new / inexperienced or otherwise not ready for full-on competitive debating. Students who compete in (or have competed in) the ISDA, FED, Eastside, Premier’s Debating Challenge, CSDA, Archdale, or equivalent competitions should not compete in this division.. This rule will not be enforced strictly but is expected in good faith. 

Age groups and divisions 

Debates will be conducted for the following age groups: 

  • Primary (year 5 and 6): Competitive Division + Development Division 

  • 7: Competitive Division + Development Division

  • 8: Competitive Division + Development Division

  • 9: Competitive Division + Development Division

  • 10: Competitive Division + Development Division

  • Senior (11 + 12): Competitive Division + Development Division 

Key Procedures

Draw generation and Zoom links

This link will be used every week, for every debate, every week: . 

This Zoom is managed by Speakers’ Corner, via the Convenor. 

The Convenor will use Tabbycat to generate the week’s draw by Wednesday each week. 

Each debate will have a column indicating which institution is providing the adjudicator. Schools should expect to provide adjudicators for roughly half their debates. Each institution’s contact must ensure their school has sourced an adjudicator for the debates indicated by the spreadsheet.. They may nominate anyone, including the team / age group’s regular coach. Institutions can provide the convenor their adjudicators’ names if they are able, but ultimately all that matters is that someone is there once the debate starts.

Institutions are encouraged to make contact in advance to ensure mutual availability. 

Connecting for debates

Teams should log onto the Zoom at the beginning of prep., rather than the beginning of the debate, to confirm their opposition is available. If an opposition does not show within 10 minutes then that institution’s coordinator should be contacted (or the adjudicator contact provided in the sheet). If an opposition does not show within 20 minutes, and their contacts do not respond, then the debate will be automatically forfeited, with a victory for the team that was present. 

Results keeping

Adjudicators (or institutional contacts) must contact the convenor to inform them of any results. 

They also must put the winning team’s name in bold on the draw / adjudicator allocation sheet by Tuesday COB. It is each institution’s responsibility to  keep a record of their team’s results. 

Disconnection and Absence Policies for Online Debates

Where a debater disconnects during a debate, they should attempt to promptly reconnect, and failing this, message the Slack channel named ‘Zoom Disconnections’. Once rejoined, they should also privately message the adjudicator on Zoom to indicate they are back. 

Debaters who lose connection or audio during a debate have 5 minutes to reconnect if they are the next speaker or currently speaking. Should they fail to reconnect after 5 minutes, their teammate is invited to give it on their behalf OR their speech is skipped entirely. 

Should a debater disconnect during a speech to which they must respond, the speaker they missed may repeat or share content, at their and the adjudicator’s discretion. 

Debaters who fail to proceed to their debate rooms after preparation time ends will also have 5 minutes to arrive before the debate starts.

Should they fail to reconnect after 5 minutes, the round will proceed as usual, with their teammate required to be an iron-person during the round.

Disconnection Policy for Online Adjudicators

Speakers should cease speaking if they notice their adjudicator has left the Zoom, or that the Zoom has disconnected, and immediately flag it to staff in. 

They should also use .. to inform tournament staff if an adjudicator has not arrived by 5 minutes after the conclusion of prep. 

Adjudicators who have lost connection during the round or fail to arrive on time to their debate will have 5 minutes to reconnect. Please immediately flag their departure to your school contact, and they can contact the other institution’s contact. 

The greatest effort will be made to reconnect the previous adjudicator. Should that prove impossible, a new adjudicator will be organised. In some cases it may be necessary to re-do speeches, or the entire debate, though this outcome is very unlikely and a last resort. 

Approval for devices to assist writing

Participants may apply to have device use approved to aid speech writing during prep time and rounds, where handwriting proves to be inaccessible to the debater. Approval will be granted on a case-by-case basis.

Please email ahead of the tournament with a brief explanation of your reasoning.

Students who are joining online, and who are not approved for advice usage will be required to show their handwritten notes to the camera just before beginning their speech. 

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