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The SADA's primary function is to run the 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.

2024 Team Entries

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


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


There are five rounds of debating for all grades. Each grade has a three round finals series. Debates are held on Tuesday,  Wednesday and Thursday nights from 5:30pm.  Each round takes place over two weeks. 
Debates are held at centrally located schools in classrooms with up to twelve debates occurring simultaneously. The evening are co-ordinated by the SADA Zone Stewards, who help direct teams to rooms, organise adjudicators, and ensure the night runs smoothly.


The SADA prides itself on the quality of its adjudicators and its rigorous adjudicator testing and training programs.


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 two 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.

  • Secret Topics, which are released to teams an hour before their debate. Teams must prepare their debate at the debating venue without the aid of research materials. Teams are not permitted to have a coach in the preparation room.

It must be remembered 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.


The speaking times for each grade are as follows

Junior B - 3 mins

Junior A - 4 mins     

Intermediate B - 5 mins

Intermediate A - 6 mins

Senior B - 7 mins

Senior A - 8 mins


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.


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 from the Schools' Competition Rules.

Junior B

This competition is for students in years 5 and 6.  Individual speeches are of 3 minutes duration.  Topics appropriate for younger students. This competition is a great way to get students involved in debating from a young age.

Junior A

This competition is for students in year 7.  Individual speeches are of 4 minutes duration.  Topics appropriate for beginner debaters.

Intermediate B

This grade is for novice debaters in years 8 and 9 who have not had the benefit of debating in the Junior grades or who struggle with oral communication. Teams must not have more than two speakers who have previously debated in this grade or higher.

Intermediate A

This grade is for confident year 8s and 9s and novice year tens who 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 topics. Teams must not have more than two speakers who have previously debated in this grade or higher.

Senior B

This grade is open to all students in years 10 and above. It is intended for experienced year 10s, year 11 debaters who are less confident or inexperienced, and novice year 12s.

Senior A

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



Fostering Academic Performance in South Australian Schools

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