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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’

Schools’ Mace

Key Facts

What: Oldest and largest debating competition for schools
Age: Years 7-13
Price: £30 per team (one team per school); fee waivers available
When: First and second rounds begin in October to January, with the national final in late March

In brief

The English-Speaking Union’s Schools’ Mace, the oldest and largest debating competition for schools in England, hones your students’ debate skills in a fun, competitive environment. Working in teams, students enhance their speech-writing, public speaking and critical thinking, helping them to excel both in and out of school and giving them a sense of pride in themselves and their achievements.

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

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

  • Prestigious national competition is highly motivating for students and the school as a whole
  • Challenges students to engage with wide-ranging cross-curricular topics, while helping to meet National 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
Tommy and peer holding the School's Mace stick
Schools' Mace winners, 2012
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

Find out more

First and second rounds run October to January, with the regional finals in February. The national final is in late March. Registrations open in the summer term and close in October each year.

Questions?

If you have any questions or queries about Schools’ Mace please email debating@esu.org or call 020 7529 1562.

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