Debate Clubs are often associated with over-achieving kids who love the sound of their own voices. There might just be an element of truth here – but that’s not necessarily a bad thing!
Whether your child is the said over-achiever or whether they’re the quieter type who doesn’t like to speak out, joining the school debate club might just be the best thing for their academic and social development. Want to know more? Read on to find out our top three reasons that your child should go to their school’s debate club…
What is debate for students?
Most schools will have a debate club. This is a club where students can get together and practice arguing over set topics. Some debate clubs follow a structured format for debate whereas others just like to discuss trending political or social topics.
There are usually two formats for a debate that are popular in British schools: British Parliamentary Format and Extended Mace Format. The British Parliamentary style is used by both Oxford and Cambridge Universities while the Extended Mace Format is used by the English Speaking Union.
Usually, there will be two sides arguing over a set topic. At the end of the debate, either the audience vote or the judges – usually the teacher running the club – will declare a winning side and give everyone feedback on their performance.
Why is debate good for schools?
Debate club can help your child:
Master the art of public speaking
Public speaking is an important skill that is relevant no matter what area of work your child will go on to. They might have to pitch business ideas, deliver presentations or simply speak confidently in an interview – all of which benefit from mastering the art of public speaking: which can – coincidentally – be done at their school’s debate club!
Debate club also gets children thinking quickly and organising their ideas. As well as mastering speech, debate club helps students master the art of listening. Listening is an important part of argumentation as you have to listen to what other people are saying and respond accordingly.
Public speaking can be a great way to engage children with dyslexia with the English language as you don’t lose any spelling for spelling, punctuation or grammar – public speaking is something that many children with dyslexia find incredibly empowering as it allows them to engage with an academic discipline which isn’t as heavily affected by their learning difficulty.
Joining a debate club can be a great confidence-building activity for your child. Where else will they get the chance to practise their public speaking in a safe, supportive and constructive environment?
Most schools work hard to create a supportive space for their debate clubs – as public speaking can be terrifying!
Most school debate clubs are set up in a way that allows students to simply observe if they want to – there shouldn’t be any pressure to speak. Many students who have low levels of confidence enjoy going and watching debates without actively participating. This is particularly true for children for whom English is a second language and also for those who might have processing difficulties – and they often end up sharing their ideas with the post-debate discussions which inevitably take place.
Being immersed in English spoken language can also help students who have English as an additional language immerse themselves in a lively, heated and friendly way.
If you want to know more about confidence building for kids, you might want to check out our blog post about the top ten children's confidence-building books.
Usually, after the formal debate is over students tend to break into their own evaluative conversations which means that there are many opportunities to make friends and talk to people. We all know that making friends is an important part of a young persons’ childhood experience.
As well as this, Debate is a collaborative activity that involves working with your teammates. This often means that students end up forging friendships while working together – it is incredibly satisfying to work with someone else and successfully craft a powerful and effective argument.
Many school debate clubs will also have social activities such as picnics or special events (like a comedy debate where the motion is something ridiculous).
So encouraging your child to join their school debate club might even help them make friends and build social skills.
How do you start a debate in school?
If your child’s school doesn’t have a debate club, there is nothing stopping you from trying to have one created.
- Talk with their teacher
- Set one up yourself
- Encourage your child to start a student-led debate club
Talk with their teacher
You can talk with the class teacher to try and find out if the school is willing to set up a debate club. Usually, this will be run by the English or Politics department in the school – so maybe email the heads of those departments?
Set one up yourself
It might be possible for you to go to your child’s school and volunteer to run an extracurricular debate club. This will be an excellent way to improve parent-teacher communication while at the same time giving something back to the school.
Encourage your child to set up a student-led debate club
If your child talks with teachers they might be able to get permission to use a room and circulate information about the club through all of the form groups. If your child manages to do this it will help them develop their leadership and organisational skills. It will also be a great achievement to put on their CV when applying for University or future jobs.
Whether your child wants to improve their English language skills, make some new friends or simply gain some experience to put on their CV, debate club might just be the best thing for them!
For tips and tricks to help your child succeed in their education, you can read more articles from our GoStudent experts on our blog site.