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Debating Wombats

  • Experienced
  • Weeks
  • Years 3 - 4

A debating program that builds on the concepts covered in Debating Wallabies, and introduces students to more complex policy based topics and case structures.

Student to Teacher Ratio 8:1
Course Objectives
  • Help students further develop their understanding of debating, placing a particular focus on policy-based topics.

  • Provide students with an in depth understanding on a range of debating concepts, from argumentation to rebuttal.

  • Give students a range of opportunities to participate in practice debates and receive individualised feedback.

View Our Coaches

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 can be difficult regardless of age – but it can be particularly challenging for younger students.

Our Debating Wombats program builds on the foundations laid in Debating Wallabies, not only by helping students deepen their understanding of central concepts like argumentation and rebuttal, but also by introducing them to policy-based topics in an online setting.  Rather than asking students to prove that something is already true about the world (which is the focus of value-based topics), policy-based debates require students to debate whether the world should be changed in some way.

Debating Wombats helps students understand how to develop these policy-based cases and so much more, and provides them with plenty of opportunities to practice their newfound skills in debates on a range of topics.

Whilst Debating Wombats always covers the basics concepts involved in debating – cases, arguments and rebuttal – the focus of the program changes every term:

  • Term #1 places a focus on making stronger arguments in a policy-based debating context;
  • Term #2 looks at affirmative and negative cases, and helps students develop both from scratch;
  • Term #3 helps students hone their rebuttal skills, so they can better tackle others’ arguments; 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 weekly 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 Wombats 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 Wombats course is an experienced level program.

Designed for students with formal coaching in debating, we recommend that students only enrol if they have:

  • completed at least one (but ideally multiple) terms of our Debating Wallabies program;
  • previously participated in one or more of our Debating Wombats programs, and want to improve some other debating skills;
  • received plenty of formal training with another provider; or
  • attended a school with a comprehensive debating training program, and competed in a number of interschool debates.

Importantly, debating and public speaking are very different skills – attending a public speaking program with us, or participating in a public speaking program at school, doesn’t really prepare students for this program – they would be better off giving out Debating Wallabies program a try.

In addition, whilst our Speaking Camp Koalas and Speaking Camp Kangaroos holiday programs do cover some debating skills, this is taught in the context of public speaking more generally, and would not normally be sufficient for them to be able to properly participate in our Debating Wombats program – these students would also likely be better off giving out Debating Wallabies program a go.

If you’re not sure whether your child would be better suited for our Debating Wallabies or Debating Wombats program, please get in touch and we would be more than happy to discuss it with you!

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 ‘comparative’ 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 course depending on how many bookings we receive – however, the maximum size of our Debating Wombats 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 debating and policy-based topics!
Course Reviews

The girls loved the camp and came away saying how much they enjoyed the activities. We’ll be back next term.

Frankie and Charley, Parents Speaking Camp Kangaroos

My daughter said she really enjoyed the program and would like to attend EVERY time. I think it must be an amazing program.

Crystal, Parent Speaking Camp Kangaroos
  • 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