Cambridge Schools

Welcome to the home of the Cambridge Union Schools Debating Competition 2017-18, one of the biggest schools debating competitions in the world!

Each year over one thousand talented youngsters compete to make it to Cambridge for the tournament finals, and ultimately for the prestigious honour of being named Schools’ champion. The competition boasts excellent opportunities for young people to get to grips with speaking in public, hone their analytical skills and countless other things, all useful for later life. With University applications and interviews just around the corner for many of those participating, the Cambridge Union Schools Debating Competition is not to be missed.

Finals day is hosted in the historic Cambridge Union building. Built in 1815, the Cambridge Union is the oldest speaking Union in the world, and has a rich history of controversial debates and influential speakers. Speakers who have addressed the Union in the past include: the Dalai LamaPresident Ronald Reagan, and Sir Winston Churchill. The tradition of high quality speakers continues to this day, with the Union recently hosting Wikileaks founder Julian Assange and notable actors Sir Patrick Stewart and Sir Ian McKellen, to name but a few.

Competition Structure

The competition is divided into two rounds: the Regional Finals and Finals Day. The Regional Round will be hosted at a University or school in your area.

This year the competition will take a slightly different format. There will be just one regional round (instead of a local and regional round), which will take a more traditional competition format. There will be 3 debates, with teams award points depending on their position in each debate and changing rooms each round. In a regional round with 32 teams or more, there will also be a break to a final.

This has three key benefits; firstly and most importantly it means more debating! Secondly, it means competitors will have an opportunity to debate against a wider variety of different teams and finally means that debaters will be judges by different adjudicators. This will allow for a wider variety of feedback from experienced debaters who will each have their own insights to add.

Debates will be in the standard British Parliamentary format (click here to download our guide on this style of debating). The second motion for the regional rounds will be pre-announced, although teams will not know their position. The first and third debates will have their motions announced 15 minutes before the start the debate, and teams can use this time to prepare their speeches.

At the end of three rounds, the team with the most points get the honour of being invited to the Cambridge Union to compete on Finals Day (For an explanation of the criteria used to make the decision, please see the BP debating guide). In regional rounds with a break to a final both the winner of the final and the team with the most speaker points will be invited to Finals Day.

More details regarding the process for sending teams to Finals Day will be posted after registration has closed.

NB: The local and regional rounds may take a different format in Scotland and Ireland. Please email us for further details.

Finals Day features a mere handful of teams compared to the number who originally entered (1/16 entered teams reach finals day), and making it this far is quite an achievement. Finals Day follows a different format to the earlier rounds. There will be four rounds of debating, with points awarded depending on your position in each debate. After the first 4 rounds in which everybody competes, the 8 teams with the most points will proceed to the knockout semi-finals. After these debates, the best 2 teams in each Semi final will advance to the grand final, where one will be crowned Schools Champion!

Hall of Fame

  • 2017 – Vancouver (Chris Pang & Alan Chen)
  • 2016 – Westminster School (Archie Hall & Stephen Horvath)
  • 2015 – Dulwich College (Ronan Patrick & Raffy Marshall)
  • 2014 – Dulwich College (Louis Collier & Will Cook)
  • 2013 – Eton College (George Clay & Jamie Jackson)
  • 2012 – Dulwich College (Sam Collier & Will Cook)
  • 2011 – Westminster School (Barnaby Raine & Indi de Graaf)
  • 2010 – RGS Newcastle (Luke Hughes & Hugo Wallis)
  • 2009 – Cheney School (Alice Stott & Zoe Lake Thomas)
  • 2008 – Aberdeen Grammar School (Natalie Smith & Rachel Watson)
  • 2007 – Haberdashers’ Aske’s Boys’ School (James Fox & Jamie Susskind)
  • 2006 – Dulwich College (Jack Devlin & Tom O’Reilly)
  • 2005 – The Latymer School (Ben Jasper & Tom Evans)
  • 2004 – Aberdeen Grammar School (Rose Grogan & Will Jones)
  • 2003 – High School of Dundee (Gavin Illsley & James Moir)
  • 2002 – Haberdashers’ Aske’s Boys’ School (Adam Berlin & Nicholas Sloboda)


The Cambridge Union Society

Cambridge Schools is run by members of the Cambridge Union Society. The Union dates from 1815, and has a long history of hosting Presidents, Prime Ministers, Statesmen, Celebrities and Sports Stars. The Unions weekly debates serve to engage and to challenge presumptions and prejudices. Finals day will be hosted at the Union itself, with the Grand Final held in the Union’s famous chamber.

For more infomation on the Cambridge Union and to see some Cambridge Union speaker events, visit

Contact Tudor at with any questions or queries.