Debating Hummingbirds

Debating Hummingbirds

  • Beginner Students Only
  • Days
  • Years 5 - 6

An introductory workshop for students with no experience in 'policy' debating who want to see what it is all about. It is a great way to ease students in and provides a solid foundation to build upon.

Student to Teacher Ratio 9:1
Course Objectives
  • Give students an introduction to the basic concepts of 'policy' debates, with a particular focus on cases, point structure and rebuttal.

  • Provide students the opportunity to participate in various debates on different topics.

  • Allow students  to practice their skills and receive plenty of feedback to help them develop. 

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Course Overview

Express your interest now to be the first to know about our April 2024 holiday workshops! 


Debating is often a competitive activity – both conceptually, as it involves two teams competing against one another, and more generally because of its popularity, as there are often limited spaces available for students to join their school team.

This course offers students a head-start on their peers by introducing them to the necessary skills and strategies involved with debating.  Placing a focus on the fundamentals of teamwork, case development, argument structure and rebuttal, students are given a leg up in any disagreement – against peers and parents alike – and are given the tools and experience necessary to flourish as a novice debater.

Students are also given the opportunity to practice their skills in a small, supportive class environment, helping them develop their own self-confidence as a speaker.

During the upcoming holidays, we will be offering many of our workshops both in-person and online.

For the most part, there is very little that separates our online and physical programs – both are interactive, cover the same theoretical concepts, and give students a range of opportunities to practice and develop their skills. Whilst some activities are different between the two, as some activities lend themselves better to physical or online classes, the actual learning outcomes remain the same for both classes.

Importantly, the timing of each workshop does differ:

  • Our in-person workshop runs between 9:15am and 3:15pm over three days;
  • Our online program runs between 9:30am and 1:30pm over three days, with a half-hour break at 11:30am.

Notably, the difference in price between each isn’t an indication of the quality of the program, or how much students will get out of the experience – both get the same amount of attention and care, and we’ve found some students develop better in an online environment.  The deviation instead is simply a result of the higher costs (such as venue hire, administrative staff and sanitation) associated with running classes face-to-face.

If you’re interested in learning more about how our online and in-person programs work, please check out the videos below!

Our Debating Hummingbirds workshop is a beginner level program.

The course is intended for students with minimal ‘policy’ debating experience, and is recommended for both shy and confident students looking to cover the fundamentals of debating.  There is also no need for students to have public speaking experience – there is no assumed knowledge for the Debating Hummingbirds program.

That said, we still generally recommend that students who have done our public speaking programs – including our Speaking Camp Koalas, Speaking Camp Kangaroos and Public Speaking Honeyeaters holiday workshops, and Public Speaking Wombats and Public Speaking Penguins weekly programs – do the beginner level Debating Hummingbirds program.

We also recommend that student who have completed our Debating Wallabies program also give our Debating Hummingbirds program a go, as it covers the more complex ‘policy’ type debating topics. The exception here is Debating Wolverines, which also covers ‘policy’ topics – those students should head straight onto the more experienced Debating Hawks holiday workshop.

If your child has some formal debating coaching and you’re not sure whether the beginner Debating Hummingbirds or experienced Debating Hawks program would suit them best, please get in touch and we’d be more than happy to discuss which is best for you!

At the end of the Debating Hummingbirds program, students should:

  • understand the basic rules and speaking roles involved in debating;
  • have developed an understanding of how to brainstorm arguments and develop a case as a team for ‘policy’ debates;
  • know the best strategies to use when delivering arguments and giving rebuttal; and
  • have engaged in various activities and practice debates using topics derived from actual interschool debating competitions.

A Nurturing Class Environment

During the first sessions of the program, the coach will spend a substantial amount of time helping students feel comfortable within the class environment, as well as ensuring that all students are across the rules of debating.  These early sessions will also involve students presenting multiple times, with the view to helping them develop their practical debating skills early on.


Case Structure

Students will spend at least two sessions looking at case structure.  Cases are crucial in debating – without a coherent case that all team members agree on, it becomes very difficult to persuade the adjudicator of anything.

Our Debating Hummingbirds workshop places the focus on ‘policy’ style debates, which involves a relatively complex case structure – students will learn during the program how to properly plot out and explain these cases.


Arguments & Rebuttal

Students will spend at least one session looking at argumentation, and another at rebuttal.  These are two fundamental skills in debating – one involves building up your team’s case, and the other pulling your opponents’ case down.

Students are also given scaffolds and plenty of opportunities to practice these skills across the workshop.


Practice Debates

In addition to all the theory, students will have the opportunity to participate in multiple practice debates during the workshop.  Each debate will be on a different policy topic, and students will have the opportunity to speak in different roles each time.

Our classes vary in size every holiday depending on how many bookings we receive – however, the maximum size of our Debating Hummingbirds class is 9 students with one coach, and 16 students with two coaches.

If there aren’t any spots left, it’s usually because we’ve hit capacity – please get in touch with us and we’ll see what we can do about either opening an extra class, fitting your child into the existing class, or putting you on a waitlist in case any students pull out!

After the Debating Hummingbirds program, students will get to keep:

  • a personal feedback sheet prepared by their coach, which goes through what they’ve improved on, and what still needs some work;
  • a certificate recognising their achievements at the Debating Hummingbirds workshop;
  • a booklet that includes all the concepts they’ve covered over the course of the program, as well as any notes that they’ve taken; and
  • hopefully a more enthusiastic approach to debating, and presentations more generally!
Course Reviews

Your distinctive approach of infusing fun and energy into a rigorous and technically disciplined programme is excellent - and works. It is challenging to fully engage school aged children to be excited and energised over three full school holiday days...yet you did it so well.

Our son loved all three days and came away with lots of stories and much more confidence. What really matters for him is being in a safe environment to experiment and learn and to feel truly supported as he builds his capabilities. Thanks for investing so much attention to this. We will be back next holidays!

Debating Hummingbirds
Jacqueline, Parent Debating Hummingbirds

Our son was very happy with the 4 day online workshops and he is very disappointed that it ended yesterday. It was immensely enjoyable and a great experience for him.

The teacher Anna was fantastic, very kind and supportive and my son felt she was very motivating. The online programs are such a bliss for us as we stay far away and would never be able to attend a face to face program. Please continue this online program even when the situation stabilises as it will encourage so many kids to pursue their passion for debating.

Hats off to you :)

Debating Hummingbirds - Online
Priya, Parent Debating Hummingbirds - Online
  • After our January 2023 Holiday Workshops...

  • 98%

    of Hummingbirds students had fun!

  • 94%

    of Hummingbirds students felt their confidence improved!

  • 92%

    of Hummingbirds students believed their manner improved!

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