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Home > Competitions > Schools’ Mace

‘My experience in the Mace gave me the confidence to challenge people and fight for what I believe is right’

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Schools’ Mace

Key Facts

What: Oldest and largest debating competition for schools
Age: Years 7-13
Price: £45 per team (one team per school); subsidies and fee waivers available for schools with high FSMs and EAL
When: Heats begin in November, with the grand final in late March
How: Registration is now closed.

In brief

The Schools’ Mace, founded in 1957, is one of the oldest and largest debating competition for schools in England. Involving around 300 schools each year, it offers students from Key Stages 3 to 5 the opportunity to discuss and debate a wide array of controversial subjects and current affairs. Over several heats of topical, passionate dialogue, students develop their knowledge of the world, as well as their reasoning and presentation skills, in a fun, enriching and competitive environment.

Educational institutions of all kinds are welcome to enter the competition.

The winners’ silver maces (each featuring an owl) are on display in Dartmouth House

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Keep in touch

Once registered, we will be in touch with details of your host school, the school you will be competing against, the motion and your assigned position (proposition or opposition).

The Schools’ Mace competition led to my whole career. If you do well in a competition, you get a sense of where you are and what you can achieve. It makes you realise that anything is possible

Krishnan Guru-Murthy

Presenter, Channel 4 News

Why do it

  • A prestigious nationwide (England and Wales) competition, highly motivating for students and the school as a whole
  • Challenges students to engage with wide-ranging cross-curricular topics, while helping to meet curriculum speaking and listening targets
  • Encourages confidence, critical thinking and social mobility, broadening students’ horizons and opportunities
  • Experienced ESU-trained judges give constructive feedback to all participants at all levels of the competition
  • Support and resources provided throughout
  • Builds links and camaraderie with other schools both locally and nationally, widening your and your students’ network of contacts
Schools’ Mace winners 2022
Over 300 schools per year participate in the ESU School’s Mace, making this the largest schools’ debating competition in the country

‘Unlike the administrators of university competitions, the ESU has a national view of what’s going on. It has extensive resources for debaters, judges and teachers all available on its website and was quickly able to tell us where Mace heats were happening in our region. More importantly, it also advised us about how we might set up a heat in our immediate area.

Another really helpful aspect of the ESU programmes is that, because it is a national organisation (international, in fact), it is possible for teachers to attend regional heats and finals as a scoping exercise before taking the plunge and registering your school.’

Laura Pearson, teacher, St Peter’s, York

Watch Manchester Grammar School and Tonbridge Grammar School debate the motion ‘This House Believes that sports governing bodies should require clubs to be majority owned by their fans’ in the grand final of the 2022 Schools’ Mace.

This video gives a quick summary of the format used in an ESU Schools’ Mace Debate.

Watch how Sehba from Swakeleys School for Girls deals with a Point of Information in this short extract from a Schools’ Mace competition.

Find out more

Sign-ups for the Schools’ Mace 2022-23 are now closed. Click here to join the waiting list.

First round heats run in November, second round heats in January, Regional Finals in late February and early March, and the National Final in late March. Submit your teams ASAP to avoid disappointment.

If you’re looking for additional help, the ESU provides training in debating and public speaking to both primary and secondary school students through our Discover Your Voice workshops. We also run an annual summer school, Debate Academy, for students aged 14 to 18, which helps to improve their debating skills with expert, world-class teaching from ESU mentors. 

Questions?

If you have any questions or queries about Schools’ Mace please email competition@esu.org or call 020 7529 1565.

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