Debating Parrots

  • Beginner
  • Weeks
  • Years 5 - 6

Debating Parrots is the ideal course for students who are either new to debating, or would like to learn what policy debating is all about.

Student to Teacher Ratio 8:1
Course Objectives
  • Give students an introduction to the basic concepts of policy debating, including cases, point structure and rebuttal.

  • Provide students with a range of opportunities to participate in practice debates.

  • Allow students to build their confidence and practice their skills over the course of the term.

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Register your interest for our upcoming Term programs.

Course Overview

Term #4 Programs are now well under way, and we are no longer taking bookings for this term! 

If you’re keen to join in 2021, please register your interest online here, or check out our January holiday workshops!

Debating is an integral part of the modern co-curricular programs run at schools today.  Not only does it help students develop their confidence -and work as a team – it also helps other essential skills crucial in day-to-day life at school. From critical thinking to building resilience (losing is never easy, but it’s even more difficult after giving a speech), there is plenty that all students can take away from debating!

Our Debating Parrots program provides students with the foundations they’ll need to take part in (and in most cases actually enjoy) debating.  Through learning proper case theory, argument structure and rebuttal strategy, this course is a great way to prepare students for some of the new speaking and analytical challenges they will be presented with throughout late primary and early high school.

Whilst Debating Wallabies always covers the basics concepts involved in debating, the focus of the program changes every term:

  • Term #1 focuses on argumentation and making strong points;
  • Term #2 looks at how to best develop cases as a team;
  • Term #3 hones in on rebuttal, and how to best tackle your opponents; and
  • Term #4 emphasises speaking manner to help students better persuade their adjudicators.

Whilst it’s recommended that students give each of these streams a try, there is no particular need to start with any of them, meaning students are welcome to join at any time!

As with all our programs, class sizes are kept small (a maximum of 8) so that each student can be provided with maximum support and attention, including plenty of individualised feedback from our experienced coaches.

When we step into a debate, there is but one goal – persuade the adjudicator. Whilst we might have logical arguments and soaring rhetoric, unless we’ve got an engaging speaking manner, there is always a real chance that an adjudicator will overlook us for the more interestingly delivered case.

Over the term, students will be exposed to all the main elements of debating – cases, argumentation and rebuttal – but instead of looking at them as academic concepts, we’ll facilitate students’ understanding of how strong manner can help deliver all three in a more engaging way.

This is what can make good points great, and can make all the difference in a debate context.

During the upcoming term, we will be offering our weekly programs 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.

Notably, the difference in price 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) associated with running classes in-person.

Should you want to learn more about our online offering, we’ve got a helpful video which goes through our Debating Parrots Online program below – stay tuned for one that explores our in-person program as well!

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. Local transmission rates are currently low, and the Government is acting very 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 three elements are:

  1. 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;
  2. 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
  3. 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 Debating Parrots course is a beginner level program.

This course assumes no particular knowledge – students are more than welcome to join the program with little (or even no) debating experience.  Everyone has to start somewhere, and there is no better time than the present.

Noting this, the program is also appropriate for students who have already completed our Debating Wallabies term program, as it focuses on ‘Policy’ style debates, rather than the more straightforward ‘value-based’ style debates covered in that course.  We would also recommend that students who have previously completed our Debating Hummingbirds holiday program give the Debating Parrots program a chance, as it goes into more depth on various concepts than the holiday programs.

In addition, this program is also appropriate for students who have previously completed our Public Speaking Parrots term program, or Public Speaking Hummingbirds or Public Speaking Hawks holiday programs – debating and public speaking are very different skills, and whilst both will help develop confidence, students will get plenty out of doing both programs.

Finally, whilst Debating Parrots always covers the basics concepts involved in policy debating, it is recommended that students give each of our focuses a try before moving on to the next level:

  • Term #1 focuses on argumentation and making strong points;
  • Term #2 looks at how to best develop cases as a team;
  • Term #3 hones in on rebuttal, and how to best tackle your opponents; and
  • Term #4 emphasises speaking manner to help students better persuade their adjudicators.

There is no particular need to start with any of these streams, meaning students are welcome to join at any time.

That said, if your child already has already completed our Debating Hawks holiday program or our Debating Wombats term program, has formal debating training from another provider or is already receiving coaching as part of a school team, they may get more out of our more advanced Debating Pelicans program – please get in touch if you’d like to discuss what’s best for your child!

Over the course of the term, students will have the opportunity to:

  • learn a range of introductory concepts and principles focusing on the essential elements of debating, with a particular focus on ‘policy’ type topics;
  • reflect upon their speaking manner, and go through a range of activities to help them feel more comfortable in the spotlight;
  • practice their budding skills in a supportive environment, alongside peers of a similar age and ability level.

Fostering a Nurturing Class Environment

At the beginning of each Debating Wallabies program, the coach seeks to facilitate a welcoming class environment and ensures that all students across the elemental rules and concepts involved in debating – in short, that everyone feels accepted and up to speed, regardless of their experience. The early sessions also involve a range of speaking activities that help students develop their fundamental debating skills.


Case Structure, Argumentation + Rebuttal

Over the first couple of sessions, the students will alternate each week between covering crucial debating skills – such as argumentation and rebuttal – with practice debates. It is important to cover each of these concepts first, and ensure that everyone is across them – this helps students to feel comfortable and confident enough to express their ideas, allowing them to start concentrating on their speaking manner instead.


Speaking Manner

From the mid-point of the term, students will move away from the theory around debating, and start spending much more of their time focusing on developing their own personal speaking manner. Rather than concentrating on theoretical concepts, these sessions revolve around practise, feedback, reflection and implementation – the four critical steps to improving one’s performance.


Practice Debates

In addition to all the theory, students will have the opportunity to participate in multiple practice debates during the term (and almost every week as the term progresses).  Each debate will be on a different topic, and students will have the opportunity to speak in various roles across the term.


Parent Presentations

As with all our weekly programs, the term concludes with a presentation to the students’ parents.  This is a great way to help them develop the confidence to speak directly to adults, as well as being a good opportunity for them to showcase their new skills.

For physical classes, we’ll make an assessment closer to the end of the term as to whether we can run presentations in person – if government restrictions still prevent parents from entering the classrooms, we’ll either film their presentations, or alternatively livestream them for parents to watch from home!

Our classes vary in size every workshop depending on how many bookings we receive – however, the maximum size of our Debating Parrots class is around eight students with one coach.

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!

By the end of each program, students will have:

  • a feedback sheet, prepared individually for them by their coach, which goes through what they’ve improved on, and what still needs some work;
  • a certificate recognising their achievements;
  • a course booklet that covers everything they’ve learned throughout the program;
  • the speech that they prepared for their final presentations; and
  • a better understanding of how debating works from a practical perspective!
Course Reviews

After missing out on selection to her school debating team, my daughter’s confidence had crashed. I had to bribe her to attend your course. On day 1, I was thrilled to see her come skipping out, elated. She enjoyed every day immensely, her confidence is restored and now she gravely tells me I’ve no hope of winning arguments with her because “I’m a debater, Mum”.

Sophia, Parent Debating Hummingbirds

My son loved the educational games involved in the workshop. The children were learning when they actually thought they just playing fun games!

Alison, Parent Debating Hummingbirds
  • Of the parents we've surveyed about our online programs...

  • 100%

    Felt their child had fun

  • 100%

    Believed their child's confidence improved

  • 100%

    Thought their child's speech structure improved

  • 92%

    Said their child's manner improved