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.

2021 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 and Wednesday nights from 5:30pm. 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.


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


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 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. 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.


The speaking times for each grade are as follows

Junior - 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 however please review the Schools' Competition Rules for restrictions on team composition.


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.



Fostering Academic Performance in South Australian Schools