Slough Grammar School
A Guide to the 2012-13 Debating Season.

Welcome to debating – the cage fighting arena of the science of Rhetoric! During the year I hope to see you develop quick and lucid thinking as well as a confidence to present your opinion in a public forum and to argue your case in the face of strong opposition. You will learn to take the unexpected in your stride and you will also develop a wider point of reference in relation to current affairs and intellectual discussion.

If this sounds a bit daunting, then this document is meant to help by explaining a few of the basic tenets of the craft and introducing you to your two “Debate Captains” who will work alongside me to help develop your talents.
I am not just looking for speakers, but we will also need to develop the skills needed to act as Chair of a debate and to judge debaters as we prepare for competition.

EMMA FLINT: has impressed by her quick assimilation of ideas and her thoroughness in researching the debates. She speaks strongly and is not afraid to intervene in Points of Information. Her clarity of thought has made her particularly strong when opening a debate and outlining the parameters of any motion. She had a baptism of fire in a Berkshire competition at Eton, when she and RUPERT MAZAREANU came out as winners of a competition against teams from Eton, Wellington, Reading Blue Coats, St George’s Ascot and several others.
RUPERT MAZAREANU: has tended to display his skills in a different way. Always willing to find the lateral path to any motion, Rupert is also a brutal opponent when presenting points of information. He was yellow carded for rudeness in one Eton debate, but as the third speaker in a team, he is immensely strong, as well as being quick witted and intellectually acute.

Mr Peel is a middle aged English teacher who loves debating and will assist the two captains in honing your skills.

As a new venture, we do not have a vast amount of public exposure – yet.

We are entering teams in the following public competitions:
The ESU Mace debate (Usually around November)
The Oxford University Schools’ Debating Competition
The Cambridge University Schools’ Debating Competition
I am trying to arrange informal competitions among local schools for later in the year and will let you know as such events emerge.

The two weekly sessions will usually consist of one hour of discussion of possible motions, based on a presentation by a team member using either a recent newspaper article or a web article of interest. The second
hour will be a full debate to BRITISH PARLIAMENTARY rules, based on the material discussed earlier in the week.

The two formats of debate in common use are the MACE and the BRITISH PARLIAMENTARY (BP).

In this debate two speakers on each side argue the motion in turn. At the end of this, listeners are asked to make points or raise questions from the floor. These should usually be addressed to a specific speaker or team. To finish the debate, a single speaker from each side sums up the material presented and tries to include comment on some of the speeches from the floor.

This debate has four speakers on each side divided into two teams of two. (Confused?). Each speaker has a specific responsibility, as will be outlined below. The speakers proceed in turn and at the end of the debate, votes are taken without any speeches from the floor. The teams do not consult prior to the the debate and are in competition. They will be credited for seeking to link the arguments on each side.This will be the common format of debate in our classes.

Specific Responsibility:

This speaker must, as a priority, outline the parameters of the debate. For example, if debating a motion such as “This house would restore the death penalty”, it is vital to state under what circumstances and for what specific crimes this would apply. Failure to do so, will leave you open for any attack the Opposition care to make.
Once this has been done, use the Rule of Three: Tell us what you are going to say; say it; and summarise by telling us what you said.
Announce your key arguments, and then move to REBUT the previous speech. Find a weakness and attack the proposition on it. Then, using the Rule of Three, explore your points and sum up by reminding us what they were.

SECOND P: – Continue the argument…
Add two more arguments and refer to Speaker 1. Then move to rebuttal of Opp 1. Return to your speech and complete in the usual manner

Second O: As above…
THIRD P: DEVELOP THE ARGUMENT – seek and destroy.
About a third to a half of this speech should be an attack on the Opposition with the aim of utterly destroying their arguments whilst boosting your team mates. In the remainder of the time you should try to make at least one new point.

As above, the speaker needs to concentrate on rebuttal but should add to the debate.

The two FOURTH speakers are the summarizers. A good summary will recap the key points made by the previous six speakers and seek to formulate the arguments into a coherent whole. This pair of speakers may well prepare by considering the possible arguments, but will not be able to make a preconceived speech.


Speeches will last for 5 minutes each – time is a concern. Some competitions may allow up to 7. Speakers have one minute at either end in which they may not be interrupted. The middle three minutes may be interrupted by POINTS OF INFORMATION. We advise speakers to formulate an appropriate opening greeting and to get used to concluding with a request for listeners to support/reject the motion.

Structure is vital. One technique is to divide your arguments in the following way – find a social or ethical, an economic, an emotional and a reasoned argument for your response. In this way a clear structure can easily by established both in the opening and the conclusion of the speeches. We will work on this technique in the lessons.

POINTS OF INFORMATION may be made to encourage the speaker to clarify or enlarge upon a point. To make one, the debater bangs sharply on the table whilst calling out Point of Information. IF the point is accepted (speakers can decline!) he has 15 seconds to make a point/ask a question in response to the point just made. Once made, a POI is completed and can not be used as a basis for supplementary questions. IN competition, all speakers should try to accept two POIs in any speech and the re is also a requirement for all participants to make POIs. The Chairman will prevent “barracking” -the practice of asking a nyumber of quick and aggressive POIs without allowing the speaker a chance to make progress.


debate score sheet

Each speaker is marked out of 10 for a number of specific areas – the overall quality and organisation and the use of POIs. The SGS score sheet that we will use is attached.