Debating for all secondary schools in England

Late Entry Schools' Mace

The Schools’ Mace is the oldest and largest debating competition for schools in the United Kingdom. It offers students in Key Stage 3 and onwards the opportunity to discuss and debate controversial topics and current affairs. In the process of the competition, students develop their knowledge of the world, as well as their reasoning and presentation skills, in a fun and competitive environment.

Educational Institutions of all kinds are welcomed to enter the competition; further education colleges, comprehensive schools, private schools, grammar schools, schools with and without sixth forms and specialist status schools. Home-schooled students are welcome to pair up with another home-schooled student in order to take part.

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The ESU Schools’ Mace is open to schools in England only and each school can enter a maximum of one team.

Each team consists of of two students in KS3 and up. Within their teams, students will have to argue for or against a motion set by the ESU. Positions on the motion will be randomly allocated.

Debates are usually chaired by a student or teacher of the host school and each round of debating is judged by two or three experienced judges, often alumni of the competition itself or from related walks of life.

The first round of the competition takes place in in the autumn term and will be organised by your local host school. They will be in touch with you once registration has closed with a proposed list of dates.

The second round of the competition is held in January and the regional finals take place in February. Those who win the regional finals go through to The National Final, which takes place in late March.

Schools can download the Competition Handbook in the Resources section below, or might consider booking an ESU Discover Your Voice workshop to help guide their team to success.

Registration for this competition has now closed. If you are interested in registering for the competition, please contact Emma Coffey on

Late Entry Schools' Mace Registration Form

Late Entry Schools' Mace Registration Form


Our Schools’ Mace resources include a handbook containing a glossary of commonly used public speaking terms, the updated rules of the competition, details of the competition format, as well as guidelines for speakers, coaches, adjudicators and organisers. There are also a set of Schools’ Mace FAQs, two classroom debating exercises and additional forms for event organisers

Schools' Mace FAQ
Judging notes
Judging Guidelines
Expense Claim Form
Photo Permission Slip
Hosting Guide