Debating is the oldest and one of the most popular co-curricular activities at the school. Debating is open to all students regardless of experience.
What is Debating?
Debating is a fun and challenging activity where participants learn to communicate effectively and convincingly, construct persuasive arguments, refute opposing arguments, strategise and use their general and current affairs knowledge.
Each debate involves two teams, the affirmative and the negative, who argue over a set topic. The affirmative team aims to argue for the topic whilst the negative argues against the topic. In a debate both teams must also refute each other’s case as well as present their own substantive arguments. It is the conflict that separates debating from public speaking and makes this activity particularly compelling.
Why do Debating?
There are many great benefits associated with debating. Debating:
- Increases your confidence in communication skills (both listening and responding clearly and fluently) and public speaking.
- Develops your critical thinking and argument construction skills. These skills are vital, not only in debating, but also for essay writing for subjects such as English or history, as well as in many career paths, such as law or politics.
- Develops your teamwork skills – an important life skill and a valued skill in many careers.
- Increases your awareness, knowledge of, and possibly your passion for current affairs and topical issues.
- Creates opportunities to make new friends, meet new people from other competing schools and become part of a vibrant community.
- Provides opportunities to develop these skills at an elite level by participating in competitions such as the Premier’s Debating Challenge, the Eastside Debating Competition, and various other university-based schools debating days.
Debating coaching occurs on Thursdays from 3.30pm to 4.30pm or 5.00pm (for competitive teams) over a 20-week period starting in Term 1 and concluding in Term 3. Students pay an annual fee that covers coaching and entry fees.
All our coaches are highly experienced and are typically involved in intervarsity, state, national and international competitions.
Coaching gives all students the opportunity for valuable experience in debating regardless of whether they choose to participate in competitions or not.
Coaching covers key areas of learning in debating, such as: knowledge of current affairs and common debating topics, debating structures, conventions and strategies, and public speaking skills and styles. Practice debates and demonstration debates are also held. Classes are run according to the skill and experience level of the class.
Eastside is a competition run on Friday evenings in Term 1 and 2 between Sydney Girls High School, Sydney Boys High School, Sydney Grammar School, SCEGGS Darlinghurst, The Scots College, Rose Bay Secondary College and Reddam House. The participating schools take turns to host the debating evenings.
Debates are in a round robin format before semi-final and final rounds. Year 7, 8 and 9 teams arrive at 5.00pm to prepare at 5.30pm and debate at 6.30pm. Years 10 and senior teams arrive at 5.45pm to prepare at 6.30pm and debate at 7.30pm.
Premier’s Debating Challenge
Sydney Girls High School enters teams in the following state-wide competitions run by the Arts Unit (of the Department of Education and Training) during school hours:
- Year 7 & 8 Premier’s Debating Challenge
- Year 9 & 10 Premier’s Debating Challenge
- Year 11 Premier’s Debating Challenge (Karl Cramp Competition)
- Year 12 Premier’s Debating Challenge (Hume Barbour Competition)
Schools Days and other competitions
Sydney Girls High School typically participates in the following one-day competitions run by various universities as well:
- UNSW Schools Days – Junior and senior
- Sydney University Schools Days –Junior, Senior
New South Wales Debating Union
The NSWDU hold workshops and trials for the NSW Schools Debating Team. In 2013 the workshops and trials were held at SGHS.
Combined High Schools Debating
Students from Years 11 and 12 are nominated by coaches in consultation with the teacher coordinator for selection trials.