World Schools Debating Championships

The World Schools Debating Championships (WSDC) is a high profile annual English-language debating tournament for high school-level teams representing different countries.

Six countries participated at the first tournament, staged in Australia in 1988. Since then, the WSDC has grown to embrace teams from over 50 countries, with around 30 taking part each year.

WSDC debates use a special format known as 'World Schools Style Debating'. This is a combination of the British Parliamentary and Australian formats, designed to meet the needs of the tournament. Each debate comprises eight speeches delivered by two three-member teams (the Proposition and the Opposition). Each speaker delivers an eight-minute speech; then both teams deliver a "reply speech" lasting four minutes, with the last word being reserved for the Proposition. Between the end of the first and the beginning of the last minute of an eight-minute speech, the opposing party may offer "points of information". The speaker may refuse these, but should take at least one or two points during his or her speech.

The WSDC normally takes place over the course of ten days. Each national team competes in eight preliminary debates: four prepared debates (the motion having been announced a few weeks before the start of the tournament) and four impromptu debates (for which teams have one hour to prepare). Once the eight preliminary rounds have been completed, the 16 best teams compete in knock-out debates (known as the Octofinals) culminating in a Grand Final. For each debate, three judges (or more in later rounds) mark each debater on his or her style, content and strategy.

The WSDC is governed by a World Schools Debating Council, made up of representatives of each of the countries who participate in the championships. Decisions are made by democratic votes of the Council members (though only representatives of countries who have entered teams in at least two of the past three WSDCs may vote on amendments to the championship rules). The Council decides which countries will host the tournament, monitors and revises the WSDC rules, and elects an Executive Committee to handle matters such as adjudication, language issues, education and finance.

Aims of the World Schools Debating Championships:

To achieve excellence in debating

To encourage debating throughout the world

To promote international understanding

To promote free speech

In order to further these aims, all participating countries agree that:

The team of any participating country may be required to debate any issue.

The team of any participating country may be required to debate against the team of any other participating country.

The team of any participating country is entitled to take part in the Championships on the same basis as any other participating country's team.