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Run by the Oxford Union, Oxford Schools' is the largest British Parliamentary school-level debate competition in the world, and the largest debating competition in the UK, aimed at students aged 14-18.


We aim to make debating accessible to as many schools as possible whilst maintaining the prestige and competitiveness of the title; an aim we have pursued for over 20 years.

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Competition Overview



The convening team has made the decision to move the outrounds of Finals' Day (Quarter Finals, Semi Finals, ESL Final, Novice Final, Open Final) to Sunday March 14th, to reflect the time differences and longer day due to technical constraints. More information can be found here.


The convening team has made the decision to move Finals' Day to an online format, in recognition of continuing coronavirus limitations; international travel restrictions; and schools' closures.


The convening team has made the decision to move all regionals to an online format, in recognition of continuing coronavirus limitations.


We have reduced all fees by £10 and hope to still be able to hold an enjoyable in-person Finals' Day at the Oxford Union. 


As a result of the current coronavirus pandemic, we have put in place the following measures to ensure the smooth continuation of Oxford Schools. 


As far as possible, social distancing will be observed and other hygiene measures in accordance with government guidelines. While we are going ahead with plans to hold our regional rounds and Finals Day in-person, should this become impossible, we have contingency plans for online rounds where necessary. This is to ensure that students are able to participate as fully as the circumstances allow.


We will update all of these policies as the situation progresses and ensure that communications remain a priority, including concerning fees and international teams. 



Each year, we invite over a thousand students to participate, and last year had over 350 schools competing. The competition offers students an excellent chance to develop their skills and confidence in public speaking, thoughtful argumentation and analytical problem solving, and is open to students of all ages.


The best performing teams in the competition compete in Finals Day, held at the historic Oxford Union. The Union is one of the most prestigious debating societies in the world, with an unparalleled reputation for hosting renowned speakers from around the globe. Established over 195 years, the society has a long tradition of challenging thought and aiming to promote debate and discussion not just in Oxford University, but around the world.

The Competition Is Split Into Several Stages:

1. Workshops


Throughout the Autumn term, teams of Oxford debaters usually will travel around the country giving debating workshops at schools that kindly agree to host them. This year, due to current coronavirus restrictions, we are planning online workshops instead. These are designed to be useful to students at all levels of debating, from complete beginners to those who consider themselves to be 'advanced debaters'.


Read more about workshops and register your interest here.


2. Regional Rounds 

The largest component of the competition, the regional rounds take place across the UK and Ireland. Additionally, we also host international rounds across 4 contintents. Each school is placed in a region geographically and the rounds are hosted by a local school. These rounds involve competing in two debates with 15 minutes preparation time ('short prep'), after which the judges will send the top performing teams forward to Finals' Day.

​Read more about regional rounds here.

Read more about international rounds here.


3. Finals' Day - 13-14 March 2021

Held in Oxford at the Oxford Union, the Finals' Day takes place in March. We invite around 120 of the best performing teams from the UK, Ireland and our international rounds to compete for the title. This year, it is taking place online, due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Read more about Finals' Day here.

Amber Warner-Warr, Alice Kenny | Convenors