08 Nov 2018: Debating Matters comes to Southampton on 17 January

Calling all sixth-formers! Apply now to take part in our inaugural Southampton Championship.

Sixth-form students from six schools in the Southampton and Hampshire area will battle it out for the title of Debating Matters Southampton Champions 2018 at a flagship day of debate on Thursday 17 January hosted by Solent University and produced in partnership with NATS – the UK’s leading provider of air traffic control services.

Teams of 16- to 18-year-olds will take part in a series of debates on major contemporary issues with particular relevance to Southampton in what has been dubbed ‘the UK’s toughest debating competition’.

Registration is now open for the competition. Local schools will enter teams of four to six sixth-form students, and Debating Matters particularly welcomes applications from schools without a history of traditional debating.

As ever with Debating Matters, it will be the substance of the arguments – rather than the style of presentation – that will decide the winners, and participants are encouraged to leave no stone unturned in a day of fierce, frantic and, most importantly, free debate. The students will face judging panels of adults from a wide range of professional backgrounds - including local business leaders, scientists, authors and academics - who will quiz them on their arguments and challenge them to defend their research and thinking.

NATS is the UK’s leading provider of air traffic control services and partner of Debating Matters Southampton. Simon Warr, communications director for NATS said:

“Debating Matters is a very rewarding challenge for all participants. Not only is it hotly contested on the day, but the knowledge and skills people learn will serve them well in any future career they pursue. NATS is delighted to be able to help bring this great initiative to the Southampton and Hampshire area.”

Solent University offers industry-focused degrees and courses with first-class facilities and quality teaching. Tere McGonagle-Daly, the pro-vice chancellor (external relations) of Solent University said:

“We’re delighted to be hosting the Debating Matters Southampton Championship in 2019 and look forward to welcome local schools and colleges to the event. Our Spark building will provide a fantastic backdrop for the event, encouraging discussion and debate amongst young people. Being located in the centre of Southampton and home to a diverse community of staff and students we are aware of the many social and environmental issues faced by society. I look forward to hearing young people’s thoughts on these issues and ideas as to how society can overcome them.”

Claire Fox, director of The Academy of Ideas, said:

“The competition prides itself on taking young people seriously, valuing ideas and allowing free debate. Some of the brightest and best students in Southampton will be taken out of their comfort zone by tackling these topics. We’re delighted to be able to work with NATS, an organisation who share our belief that debate is an essential tool for the world of work. And we’re delighted to be able to host Championship at the Solent University, a hub of intellectual engagement and real-world focus.”

Apply now

To book a place for your school at Debating Matters Southampton, please email Bernie Whelan on or call on 020 7269 9230. Please note, there are VERY LIMITED SPACES and are offered on a FIRST COME FIRST SERVED BASIS. Get in touch ASAP to take part.


Thursday 27 June:
Oxfordshire Championship at Oxford Union, in partnership with Magdalen College School and Oxford Festival of Arts

Friday 5 July:
North East Championship at Durham Sixth Form Centre


Find a list of all our previous championship events here.


Bernie Whelan, our DM coordinator, is raising money for Debating Matters. To stage one of our Championships for six to 12 teams costs £6,000. Find out more on Bernie’s Wonderful fundraising page.


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