Primary Schools State Debating Championships

Latest Competition News

The 2018 championships came down to a grand final between the Northern Sydney representative team and the team from New England. The debate was held at the Collaroy Centre on Wednesday 7 November with the New England team successfully arguing the negative side of the topic "That we should ban parents and teachers from making primary school kids do homework or study outside of school hours." We've got a video of the final towards the bottom of this page where you can see for yourself just how extraordinary both teams' performances were, so on behalf of the Department of Education congratulations to those two teams and to all of the debaters who worked so hard to make the 2018 tournament the most sophisticated (but still fun!) in the competition's history.

The winning New England team with the trophy.

The 2018 championship-winning New England representative debating team (left to right): Lesley Lamb, Jorja Brown, Forbes Murdoch, Rowan Sullivan and Jack Coddington.

Basic Information

Since 1996 ten regions of NSW have selected their four best primary school debaters to represent them at the Primary Schools State Debating Championships. Each year the teams gather in late November in Collaroy on Sydney's northern beaches to battle it out across 5 rounds, semis and a final to determine a state champion. Note that the cost for each selected student to attend the tournament camp is roughly $300.00, though some regions are able to help out with some extra money to subsidise that.

Rules of Competition

  • Competitors should be from Years 5 and 6 attending a government public school in New South Wales.
  • Only one student may be selected per school and each student may only compete at State primary level twice.
  • Teams should be comprised of four members with each regional team exercising its discretion to include a fifth member.
  • Debates will be judged by adjudicators with primary experience who have been selected by The Arts Unit.
  • Each speaker should speak for a maximum of four minutes, with a warning bell at three minutes. A continuous bell will be rung at five minutes.

Stages of Competition

  • The topics will only be disclosed, and decided upon, immediately prior to preparation time.
  • Teams should prepare their debates within a predetermined time limit of one hour, without the assistance of their coaches.
  • There will be five rounds of debates. At the conclusion of those rounds the top four teams will debate in the Semi-Finals. Should there be a number of teams with an equal number of wins, then the four Semi-Finalists will be decided at the discretion of the adjudicators in consultation with the State Debating Coordinator.


  • The Primary Schools State Debating Championships Trophy is awarded to the State Champion Regional Team.
  • Medallions are awarded to team members of both teams competing in the State Final.
  • Certificates are awarded to all participants.

You can see a list of past winners of the competition by clicking here, and you can watch the 2018 final below by either clicking play, or if you prefer you can click here and you'll be taken to Vimeo to watch the debate. There you'll have more options like being able to download the video or jump between speakers by clicking on their times. Congratulations again to these debaters and everyone who made the competition such a success.