Virtual Debate Clubs and Debating Opportunities for Young People

The University of Kent Outreach and Widening Participation Team are offering a range of debating opportunities to students in school years 9-13. This includes the return of our hugely popular multi-school ‘Virtual Debate Club’.

The Virtual Debate Club
Virtual debating presents an opportunity to connect students from schools across the county who are interested in debating and enable them to interact with a wide range of other young people and engage with different viewpoints and opinions.

The Virtual Debate Club consists of two 5 week modules which take place online via Zoom in the early evenings. These modules are designed to increase students’ knowledge of competitive debating and related topics while also encouraging them to develop key skills such as the ability to structure arguments effectively and presentation skills.

Module 1: Online Introduction to Debating
This programme of 5 sessions is designed to introduce students to the UK parliamentary debating style, and help them to build strong arguments and gain confidence in public speaking.

Module 2: Debating in Action 
This five week programme follows on from the Introduction to Debating module and offers more students more experience of formal debating through participation in weekly debates. The virtual debate club also builds upon the skills developed in the previous module and introduces students to a range of new debating topics.

There are currently two clubs available one for Year 9-11 and one for Year 12-13. The details for the clubs are as follows:

Years 9-11
Tuesdays:  16:30-18:00
Dates: 1 February, 8 February, 15 February, 22 February, 1 March, 8 March, 15 March, 22 March, 29 March, 5 April

Years 12-13
Wednesdays: 16:30-18:00
Dates: 2 February, 9 February, 16 February, 23 February, 2 March, 9 March, 16 March, 23 March, 30 March, 6 April

As this activity will take place in the early evenings, students who are interested are asked to sign up in advance of the first session. Students should register their interest in the programme by completing the online application form. 

For the Year 9-11 club please apply here 

For the Year 12-13  club please apply here 

The deadline to apply is midnight Monday 24 January.

Please Note: Capacity is limited and therefore we cannot guarantee any student a place on this programme. Successful applicants will be notified via email. Should places be oversubscribed priority will be given to students who reside within UniConnect wards. 

Benefits of Debating
We strongly believe that debating empowers students by giving them a voice, and helps them develop a number of crucial skills such as critical thinking and public speaking. Participating in debating can be linked to both academic attainment and opportunities to explore content that lies outside of the traditional curriculum.

Debating can also be linked to literacy skills. GCSE English Language Paper 2 requires students to think about persuasive writing and apply their skills to a variety of situations. Forming an opinion, presenting an argument, and supporting it with confidence are vital for success in this part of their GCSE assessment. Students taking part in the our debating programme will work on these key study skill areas.

Furthermore, debating allows students to develop understanding and knowledge of subjects and social issues that extend past the traditional secondary school curriculum. This aligns with OFSTED School Guidance which highlights the need for schools to extend the curriculum beyond the academic, technical or vocational qualifications and include opportunities for personal development. It highlights areas of citizenship, developing students to become actively involved in public life as adults, exploring democracy and developing students’ confidence and resilience as key areas of importance. These are key areas of development which can be facilitated by debating.

Despite these benefits competitive debating has long been the realm of highly selective or independent schools, with non-selective schools rarely represented at any national events. Our debating programmes aim to offer a platform for students to get experiences and develop skills through competitive debating.

Additional Debating Opportunities
In addition to our virtual debate club, we are pleased to be offering additional debating activities both in school and on campus.

Arguing with Confidence
This two hour taster will use debating techniques and activities to help students become more confident presenters. The focus of this activity is to help students think about creating and developing arguments. It is designed to inspire interest in debating.

Discover Your Voice: Debating Day
This full day activity is designed to provide an introduction to debating. Students will spend the day developing key debating skills and build their confidence in public speaking, culminating in a final full debate. This activity can be delivered in-school or at one of the University’s campuses.

Debating Competition
Should interest allow, the University hopes to host it’s first annual debating competitions. These competitions will take place in the summer on our Canterbury campus and will follow British Parliamentary rules.

For information about any of these additional activities and to book, please contact