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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

Bookings are now closed for Term #2 – if you’re keen to join next term, you can register your interest for Term #3 here!

 

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 policy debating – cases, arguments and rebuttal – the focus of the program changes every term:

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

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.

Arguments form the basis of all debates, and the bread and butter of any speech – they normally make up more than half of the allotted speaking time. However, whilst they might all seem similar at first glance, there are lots of ways to deliver effective argumentation – and that’s what we focus on in Term #2.

In addition to looking at other fundamental debating concepts – including cases, rebuttal and speaking manner – this program homes in on the best methods for coming up with persuasive points, the difference between practical and principled arguments, and how to effectively structure both.

Each of these elements are then tied into a range of speaking activities and debates, all with plenty of personalised feedback, to help them put these concepts into practice.

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.

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 core introductory theory about ‘Policy’ debates;
  • explore case development, argument structure and rebuttal strategies, with a particular focus on practical points, principled points and stakeholder analysis;
  • deploy what they have learned in at least three in-class debates across the term;
  • practice different speaking roles and argue from both affirmative and negative sides of a debate; and
  • learn how to work effectively in a team environment!

Fostering a Nurturing Class Environment

At the beginning of this 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.

 

Practical + Principled Arguments

The main focus of the program is argument structure, and students start with the most essential structure in any policy debate – practical arguments, which look at tangible benefits and harms that a policy might create. Once students are comfortable with these, they’ll move on to the slightly more complex principled points, which look at whether a policy should be considered ethical. Both of these sessions involve plenty of opportunities to practice, and culminate in a practice debate so students can practice their newfound skills in a real-life environment.

 

Stakeholder Analysis

The ability to present a good argument means very little if you can’t come up with good ideas! Given this, students also spend at least one session looking at stakeholders, how they can help them come up with arguments, and methods that can be used to weigh points against one another to see which will come out most persuasive.

 

Case Structure, Rebuttal + Speaking Manner

Debates aren’t just two teams arguing with one another – it’s also important to understand case structure, rebuttal and persuasive manner. Whilst these are covered in more depth in other terms, they all have a dedicated session as part of the Argumentation stream!

 

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
  • After our Term #4 programs...

  • 100%

    of Year 3 - 4 students surveyed enjoyed attending the programs

  • 100%

    of Year 3 - 4 students surveyed felt more confident

  • 88%

    of Year 3 - 4 students surveyed saw their speaking manner significantly improve

  • 88%

    of Year 3 - 4 students surveyed really wanted to come back again next time