Schools' Competition Information

The SADA's primary function is to run the UniSA SADA Schools' Competition - South Australia's premier debating competition which has run continuously since 1966.

The competition is aimed at students from years 5 to 13 of all abilities. The strength of the Competition is illustrated by the strong academic performance of the students involved and the sustained success of the South Australian Schools' State Debating Team, which competes at the National Schools' Debating Championships each year after receiving intensive coaching from the SADA's state team coaches and senior adjudicators. 

Since 2010 the Competition has been supported by the University of South Australia in recognition of the educational value of the Competition to students throughout South Australia. Our partnership with the University of South Australia provides students with valuable exposure to one of South Australia's leading tertiary institutions and affords the SADA access to the University's modern facilities. This partnership affirms the SADA's commitment to benefiting students' long term academic development and the University of South Australia's commitment to engaging with students of all ages through supporting worthwhile community programs.

2017 Team Entries

School Debating Co-ordinators interested in entering teams in the UniSA SADA Schools' Competition should, after reviewing the information below, visit the team entries page.

2017 Competition Program

Click here to download the 2017 Competition Program.

Debating Style

The UniSA SADA Schools' Competition is run in a manner consistent with national standards set by the Australian Debating Federation and debates follow the Australasian three-on-three format. For more information about debating, please visit our education page.

Round Nights

There are five rounds of debating for all grades. Each grade has a three round finals series. Debates are held on Tuesday and Wednesday nights from 6:30pm. Each round takes place over two weeks. 

Schools are grouped into geographical zones to reduce travel distance. Debates are held in school classrooms with up to ten debates simultaneously at any venue. The evening are co-ordinated by the SADA zone stewards, who help direct teams to rooms, organise adjudicators, and ensure the night runs smoothly.

Adjudicators

The SADA prides itself on the quality of its adjudicators and its rigorous adjudicator testing and training programs. To learn more about the SADA's adjudicators, please click here.

Topics

For Junior and Intermediate grades, all debates are prepared topics. Topics are set by the SADA Topic Selection Committee which aims to set topics that are evenly balanced and expose students to a range of important and relevant issues and ideas in order to facilitate their academic development.

The SADA sets three types of topics:

  • Prepared topics, which are listed in the Program at the start of the season. These topics can be on any issue and are set to be appropriate for the particular grade which has to debate them.
  • Current Events topics, which are released to teams one week in advance of their debate and aim to cover current developments Australia and the rest of the world. These topics aim to encourage students to engage with current affairs.
  • Secret Topics, which are released to teams one and a half hours before their debate. Teams must prepare their debate at the debating venue without the aid of research materials. In the Senior grades, teams are not permitted to have a coach prepare their secret topic debates with them.

It must be remembered that that debating is about setting aside one’s own personal beliefs, and constructing an objective and logical arguments in an effective way. Our programs aim to improve students’ ability to understand, discuss and present issues and ideas. We encourage students to empathise with opinions even if they are contrary to their own. We will always seek to extend and challenge students whilst positively supporting them to develop their skills.

Points of Information

The SADA phases in points of information from Intermediate A Grade onwards. Points of information allow debaters to interject in an opposition member’s speech and, accordingly, make debates much more entertaining and dynamic.

Grades and Composition of Teams

No teams of less than three members can be entered. We recommend that teams have a minimum of four or five members. As a general rule, teams should not have more than six members.

Co-ordinators should aim to enter students in a grade befitting their ability, rather than their age. Co-ordinators should also be open to entering teams which contain students from a number of year levels, where appropriate. Below is an overview of the different grades however please review the Schools' Competition Rules for restrictions on team composition.

Junior

This competition is for students in years 5 to 7. Speeches are short and topics appropriate for younger students. This competition is a great way to get students involved in debating from a young age.

Intermediate B

This grade is for beginner debaters in years 8 and 9 who have not had the benefit of debating in primary school or who struggle with oral communication. This grade is for:

  • year 8s who have not debated before, or who are not confident debaters; and
  • year 9s who have not debated before, or who are not confident debaters.

Intermediate A

This grade is for confident year eights and nines and novice year tens who have are familiar with the basics and are ready to take on new skills in debating. This grade features the introduction of points of information and secret and current events topics. This grade is for:

  • experienced year 8s who have debated with a degree of success in the Junior Grade or IPSHA Competition;
  • year 9s who have a year or more debating experience; and
  • year 10s who have not previously debated in the Intermediate A or higher.

Senior B

This grade is open to all students in years ten and above. This grade is useful for older students who did not debating in Intermediate A grade or who struggle with debating. This grade is for:

  • year 10s with experience in the Intermediate A competition;
  • year 11s who have had some experience but would not be confident debating against average year 12s; and
  • novice year 12s who lack either experience or confidence.

Senior A

This grade is for accomplished debaters in years ten and above who wish to debate an advanced level. This is the highest level of school debating in South Australia. This grade is for:

  • accomplished year 10s who have enjoyed considerable success in junior competitions and are confident and enthusiastic;
  • confident and experienced year 11s; and
  • year 12s who have debated for a few years.

Further Information

Please do not hesitate to contact the Schools' Chief Administrator if you would like more information about the UniSA SADA Schools' Competition or wish to discuss entering teams in the competition.