Standard Operating Procedures

The Standard Operating Procedures is the official document that sets out the rules and format of the Schools' Competition.

1. Programme Format

2. Divisions

    1. Year 5

    2. Year 6/7

    3. Year 8

    4. Year 9

    5. Year 10

    6. Senior: Students in Years 11 and 12

    7. Open: Students of any age. Adults may participate in this division provided that they register through a school.

3. Debates

4. Room layout of a debate

A debate is set up as shown in the diagram below.

Debate Layout

5. Chairman and Timekeeper

6. Scores

Argument                50

Presentation            30

Structure                  20

7. Official and Unofficial Debates and Teams

    1. are students of the school for which they are competing and;

    2. are in the designated Year level or lower.

       An Open division team need only have 3 members to be an Official Team.

8. Results

Official Team win:                4 points

Official Team loss
- against Official Team        3 points
- against Unofficial Team    4 points

Unofficial Team win             2 points

Unofficial Team loss             1 point

Forfeit                                    0 points

9. Debates without Opposition (‘vs Adjudicator debates’)

If a team arrives at a debate where there is no opposition due to a forfeit or otherwise, that team shall have the option of:

  1. Not debating at all. The team will be awarded a win by default and each speaker will receive 85 points each; or

  2. Debating against another team without an opposition. Both teams will be awarded a win by default. Speakers of both teams will receive no less than 85 points each; or

  3. Debating against the adjudicator. The adjudicator will give the team feedback and present possible opposing arguments. The team will be awarded a win by default. Speakers will receive no less than 85 points each.

10. Prepared Debates

11. Short Preparation Debates

12. Quodlibetical Debates

Quodlibetical Debates are debates where the topic is in the form of a scenario, which often presents debaters with a moral dilemma. Debaters should debate the issues presented by the scenario.

Quodlibetical topics may feature as Short Preparation Debates and are used at the Year 10, Senior and Open divisions.

13. One Card Debates

14. Preliminary Round Draw

15. Late Teams

    1. may debate as an unofficial team, if one or more team members have arrived, or;

    2. will forfeit the debate incurring a forfeit without notice charge.

16. Wrong side of topic prepared

17. Forfeits

    1. The person in charge of that team should register the forfeit on the website at OR complete and fax a Forfeit With Notice Form OR email the details to Debating SA.

    2. The Debating Coordinator of the opposing school should be notified. Please note that the opposing team may still choose to attend the debate as scheduled as described in Section 9.

18. Postponements

    1. The debate to be postponed is in Rounds 1 to 4. If the debate is a Round 5 debate, it may only be brought forward.

    2. The opposing school agrees to the postponement.

    3. An adjudicator is available to adjudicate the postponed debate.

19. Finals Series

Quarter Finals

Debate number




First ranked

Eighth ranked


Second ranked

Seventh ranked


Third ranked

Sixth ranked


Fourth ranked

Fifth ranked

Semi Finals

Debate number




Winner QF1

Winner QF4


Winner QF2

Winner QF3

Grand Final

Debate number




Winner SF1

Winner SF2

20. Debater of the Year Awards

Debater of the Year Awards will be held for all divisions to recognise excellence in debating. The Debater of the Year for each division will be decided based on the following criteria:

    1. The average of their best 3 speaker scores.

    2. The standard deviation of their scores.
    3. The average of their best 3 Debater of the Year Debate Rankings.

    4. If two or more speakers are ranked the same under these criteria then the speakers’ positions as at the previous round will be used.

    5. If no distinction between speakers can be drawn according to the above criteria then additional criteria may be applied by Debating SA.

21. Code of Conduct for Participants and Spectators

Debating SA believes firmly that each and every participant has the right to participate in a respectful, safe and supportive environment. Therefore, all persons involved in our programme, such as teachers, coaches, parents and other spectators, are required to adhere to the following Code of Conduct:

Members of the audience:

TURN OFF MOBILE PHONES OR OTHER DEVICES SUCH AS ELECTRONIC GAMES. Spectators are asked to behave in a way that is respectful to debaters and models best conduct. The use of electronic devices such as mobile phones or games, or other (non-electronic) items which could potentially cause audible and/or visual distraction to speakers, are not permitted during a debate.

DO NOT SPEAK DURING THE DEBATE. Spectators should refrain from talking (or whispering) while a debate is in session. They must not make any gestures, or noises or otherwise engage in any conduct which could potentially distract a speaker or others. Younger children who wish to attend must also adhere to this requirement otherwise, they should not attend a debate. It may not always be practicable or appropriate for very young children to attend.

DO NOT ENTER THE ROOM WHILE A DEBATER IS SPEAKING. Spectators should only enter or exit a debating room during the short break between speakers if a debate is in session. Entering/exiting audience members should move discreetly and quietly so that the debaters and the adjudicator can focus on their respective tasks without interruption

NO VIDEO RECORDING OR PHOTOS of any proceedings in any debate is permitted except with the express and prior consent of all the individual participants involved and of Debating SA

If an adjudicator believes that an audience member's behaviour is unacceptable, the adjudicator may ask the audience member to leave.

Persistent breaches of these expectations may result in particular individuals being excluded from attending future Debating SA events.

22. Further Information

For further information regarding debating please refer to the Official Debating Manual which has a detailed explanation of all the formalities of debating.

23. Queries and Complaints

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