Foundations of Debating

  • Beginner Students Only
  • Days
  • Years 7 - 9

A beginner-level workshop which seeks to equip students with all the fundamental skills necessary to flourish in high school debating.

Student to Teacher Ratio 9:1
Course Objectives
  • Provide students with the foundations of 'policy' debates, with a particular focus on case structure, arguments and rebuttal.

  • Give students the opportunity to participate in a range of debates on different topics.

  • Allow students to practice multiple times a day, and receive plenty of individual feedback.

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Register your interest for our upcoming Holiday programs.

Course Overview

Bookings for the Winter Workshops opening in late May – Register your interest to join the fun here


Increasingly, debating is taking on a leading role in secondary education, both as a co-curriculum and as an assessment style.  Whilst often viewed as a competitive activity – which it inherently is from certain perspectives – it is also a great source of personal development, whether it be through stronger critical thinking skills, improved responsiveness when challenged, or increased resilience in the face of adversity.

Our Foundations of Debating program provides students with all the tools they need when starting out in the world of debating. Covering everything from case development to debate prep to rebuttal fundamentals, this workshop lays down the groundwork for tomorrow’s champion debater using a combination of necessary theory with a range of practice debates.

Using a combination of small classes, a supportive environment, and our enthusiastic team of coaches, this program is perfect for early high school students looking to see what debating is all about.

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 programs work, please check out the video below!

Whilst children appear to not be at particularly high risk from COVID-19, SSA places their safety (and the safety of our coaches) as our highest priority.  This emphasis on safety is the first tier of our teaching policy.

We generally consider the risk of transmission at our programs to be very unlikely.  This is for three reasons:

  1. From a general perspective, whilst children are not immune, they do show substantially milder symptoms than adults, and appear to catch and transmit the virus at lower rates.
  2. Despite high vaccination levels, the Government is still acting cautiously in removing restrictions – most people who catch the virus are quarantined, as are any known close contacts, which has significantly limited the spread of the virus.
  3. We have put in place a range of extra protections that are reviewed continuously for best practice, and seek to keep students as safe as possible.

We have prepared our COVID-19 Action Plan, which outlines the three methods we are using to keep students safe.

Whilst you are very welcome to read the Action Plan in full, the four elements are:

  1. Vaccination – all of our onsite staff are fully vaccinated, so they pose a substantially reduced risk to our students;
  2. Symptom Testing – whilst we instruct all parents not to send students displaying symptoms (or awaiting test results), we will be using temperature checks and coach training to ensure that any students who show symptoms are isolated and removed from programs;
  3. Limited Exposure – there are a range of steps in place to help ensure that students (and parents) socially distance, and limit the chance of spreading the virus; and
  4. Enhanced Sanitation – we have adopted hand and surface cleaning regimens to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Additionally, we will also be continuing to offer online programs for the foreseeable future. This will help ensure that parents and students who are uncomfortable with physical classes have an alternative that allows them to feel safe, whilst still receiving a quality education in public speaking and debating.

Please check out our COVID-19 Action Plan here, or get in touch if you have any questions!

Our Foundations of Debating workshop is a beginner level program.

The course is intended for students with minimal debating experience, and is recommended for both shy and confident students alike who 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 Foundations of Debating program.

Students who have completed our Year 5 & 6 debating programs – whether they be our Debating Hummingbirds or Debating Hawks holiday programs, or Debating Parrots or Debating Pelicans term programs – should progress straight to our Experienced Debating program.  However, students who have just done our Year 5 & 6 public speaking programs (including Public Speaking Honeyeaters, Herons and Penguins) are recommended to learn the fundamentals in our Foundations of Debating program.

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

At the end of the Foundations of Debating workshop, students should:

  • understand the fundamental rules and concepts associated with debating;
  • know how to develop arguments and prepare a case as a team for ‘policy’ style debates;
  • have been exposed to common argumentation and rebuttal methods; and
  • have participated in a range of 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 Foundations of Debating 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 Foundations of Debating workshop, students will have:

  • 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 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

My son signed up for the 3-day Foundations of Debating Holiday Program and loved it after the 1st day. He couldn't wait to go back for the next one. Friendly and patient staff.

Ka, Parent Foundations of Debating

Our son really enjoyed the program, the teacher and fellow students. His debating skills and confidence have greatly improved.

Susan, Parent Foundations of Debating - Online
  • After our Summer 2021 programs...

  • 100%

    Students had fun

  • 100%

    Students felt their confidence improved

  • 100%

    Students believed their manner improved

  • 94%

    Students want to come back next time