Registration is NOW OPEN. Click here for more information.

Here's The Deal

  • Regional Rounds hosted in Universities before Christmas and during the spring
  • Finals Day in the historic Cambridge Union
  • FREE Workshops and Introductory Debating Guide
  • Over 600 teams and 1200 speakers
  • In-depth feedback and advice from our experienced Judges
  • Interesting and challenging motions
  • Thousands available in Full and partial means-tested bursaries

All for just £50 per team!

Find out more »


Welcome to the home of the Cambridge Union Schools Debating Competition 2015-16, one of the biggest debating competitions for school children 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. Every year, the best teams from the competition reach finals day.

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 Lama, President Ronald Reagan, and Sir Winston Churchill. The tradition of high quality speakers continues to this day, the Union recently hosting Wikileaks founder Julian Assange and notable actors Sir Patrick Stewart and Sir Ian McKellen, to name but a few.

We look forward to welcoming you to Cambridge in February!


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

  • 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


In addition to attracting some of the best teams on the schools debating circuit, Cambridge Schools offers one of the finest judging pools. At its forefront will be:

Srishti Krishnamoorthy

Chief Adjudicator — Srishti Krishnamoorthy

Srishti is a 3rd year PhD student in English at Newnham. She was a semi finalist and 14th ranked speaker at EUDC 2015. She has won a competition, and broken as speaker and judge, and finished as a top ten speaker at several others. She is a very experienced CA and is looking forward to being involved with Cambridge Schools again this year. She carries forward her affection for chalk and dark chocolate, and her dislike for modern technology from last year.

Thomas Simpson

Chief Adjudicator — Thomas Simpson

Thomas is a third year Economics student. He won and was best speaker at NZ Schools' twice and represented NZ three times at World Schools'. Since then he has won five university competitions including the Yale IV and was twice named one of the top ten speakers in the world. He was previously the Chief Adjudicator of the International Competition for Young Debaters.

George Clay

Chief Adjudicator — George Clay

George won Cambridge Schools in 2013, and if he's honest life has sort of gone downhill from there. Nostalgia is now so much a part of his life that he studies History full time at Jesus College. He has still found time to win an impressive array of university debating titles - from Best Individual Team in Europe in 2014, to fifth in the World in 2015. Individually he has been among the top ten debaters in Europe two years in a row, and is currently ranked thirteenth BP speaker in the World.

Asad Khan

Chief Adjudicator — Asad Khan

Asad is currently in his third and final year, studying History at Trinity College. He is also the Debating Officer at the Cambridge Union. Having consistently spoken on behalf of Cambridge over the past two years, Asad has had moderate success, reaching the out-rounds of multiple competitions, and having won the Old Parkland Invitational Championship in America. Having debated a bit at school in Pakistan, Asad knows how important debating can be for students, and hopes to provide entertaining and challenging motions as CA of Cambridge Schools.

Org Com

Cambridge Schools is organised by a dedicated team. To email the Convenors, please click here.

Minaam Abbas

Convenor — Minaam Abbas

Minaam is a third year medical student at St. John’s College. He is the standing JCR President of his college and has amassed extensive debating experience during school, competing at national and international levels. When not experimentally sticking electrodes in brains, he occasionally debates at the odd IV. He previously served as the finance officer for the 2014-5 ICYD.

Robin Xu

Deputy Convenor — Robin Xu

Robin is a second year economist at Trinity College. He attended school in the US and competed in public forum debate, but is still relatively new to British Parliamentary style. Since he’s more accustomed to public forum debate, he prefers finding others to judge (he’s actually really good, he just won’t admit it).

Charlie Holmes

Deputy Convenor — Charlie Holmes

Born in Glasgow and brought up in Edinburgh, Charlie did much of his debating at school wearing a kilt as a thinly veiled excuse to carry a knife in my sock for rebuttal purposes. Now, as a second-year economics student at King's, he keeps his kilt and ceremonial weapons in reserve for scaring English people on formal occasions and spends more time judging and organising competitions than speaking in them. As a former member of the Scottish schools' debating team, he has stayed close to that side of things, running the "West-Coast Worlds" competition twice. When not doing any of the above, he enjoys poetry, cricket, and poetry about cricket.

Alastair Langtry

Finance Officer — Alastair Langtry

Alastair is a second year economist at Queens’ College, and has competed in several IVs. Time spent travelling around the country last year judging Cambridge Schools has made him an expert on the inside of trains. When not debating or pretending to study economics he plays tennis and squash, and tries desperately to tell himself he’s not terrible at tennis.


Giving Kids a Chance

The competition features some of the very best in schools debating, all vying for the prestigious title of Cambridge Schools Champion. Year after year many of the same schools enter. However, this year one of our main goals in running the competition is to widen access to schools which haven’t competed before.

Many schoolchildren haven’t had the chance to experience debating and all of its benefits. In order to give these children a chance we are running numerous workshops around the country aimed at novices who haven’t had the opportunity to try out debating before. These workshops will be free of charge and run by the experienced debaters of the Cambridge Union.

These workshops will consist of an introduction to public speaking, techniques for constructing arguments and an overview of the British Parliamentary style of debating. The ability to speak confidently in public is an invaluable skill that we think all young people would benefit from. Workshops in the past have been very successful at engaging with pupils and teaching them the basic rules of analysis that they can then apply to debating, the classroom and beyond. Particularly with university applications and interviews on the horizon for many pupils, the workshops provide an invaluable experience for students of all backgrounds and abilities. The workshops will be fun and engaging, covering a variety of issues including current affairs and topical news stories.

The workshops will be running regionally and will be posted here as they are confirmed:

  • Cambridge Union Society, Cambridge — TBA
  • Oxford — TBA
  • London — TBA
  • Newcastle — TBA
  • Birmingham — TBA
  • Cardiff — TBA
  • Edinburgh — TBA
  • Glasgow — TBA

If you are interested in hosting a workshop please get in touch with us!

Places are limited, and are allocated with preference to schools who have little or no debating experience. If your school wishes to attend a workshop, volunteer to host one, or you just want more information about them, please email us at convenor.cambridgeschools[at]


What you get...

Cambridge Schools is one of the largest and most prestigious schools debating competitions in the world. But, above all, we aim for all those who enter to have a enjoyable and memorable time. Those who compete will receive:

  • Regional rounds hosted in universities before Christmas and in the spring Finals Day in the historic Cambridge Union
  • FREE Workshops and Introductory Debating Guide
  • Over 600 teams and 1200 speakers
  • In Depth feedback and advice from our experienced Judges
  • Interesting and challenging motions
  • Thousands available in Full and partial means-tested bursaries

All of this is available as part of our basic £50 per team package.

Registration Timetable

Registration will open on Wednesday September 9th. Provisionally, Registration will close on October 2nd at Midnight. However, if all places are taken (or there are still some left) the closing date may move. It is therefore best to Register as early as possible to avoid disappointment! Teams who register after the competition is full will be put on a waiting list.

Places will be allocated on a first come-first served basis, although if you do not pay in a timely manner your places may be taken away and given to a team on the waiting list.

This year to make payment easier, we will be using PayPal. Payment can made using a PayPal account or using a credit or debit card. If you are unable to pay in this way please contact us and we will be able to arrange payment via cheque or (online) bank transfer. Invoices can be sent out on request.

The price for this year's competition is £50 per team up to a maximum of 4 teams per school.

If you have any questions about the registration system, or about the registration/payment process, please contact us.

Terms and Conditions

Our full Terms and Conditions can be found here.

Register Now!

Main Registration is now open! The registration is available HERE

Main registration will close on October 2nd. After that date you will be placed on the waiting list. Competition slots are allocated to teams on the waiting list on a first-paid, first-served basis.