The world's leading debating competition for students

The World Schools Debating Championships

The World Schools Debating Championships (WSDC) is the most respected international English-language debating competition for students aged 14-19.

Each year, national debating organisations across the world put together teams of up to 5 of their nation's best debaters to compete in the Championships. The selected debaters then train hard together to ensure that they are prepared to the best of their abilities.

As well as encouraging competition between the most talented young debaters in the world, the competition aims to promote international understanding and celebrate free speech.

Founded in 1988, this two week tournament provides an opportunity to showcase the highest standard of secondary school debating across the globe. The location of the competition changes each year; recent venues include Turkey, Thailand, Singapore, Germany, Stuttgart and Croatia. The Championship will take place in Colombo, Sri Lanka, 23rd July– 2nd August 2019.

Applications for Team England and Team Wales for WSDC 2019 are now closed.

Register your interest for 2019-2020 here.

The ESU is proud to manage Team England and Team Wales. We select their Coaches and Team Manager who train and support them in the run up to the competition, manage their registration and participation in the tournament and finance their travel, accommodation and sustenance during the competition. We also offer means-tested bursaries to those Team Members needing assistance with the WSDC registration fee.

Selected applicants are invited to WSDC team trials whereby an experienced selection panel chooses 10 triallists for the Development Squad. This squad receive expert coaching out of which the final team of 5 are selected. There are minimum thresholds for traditionally underrepresented groups at various stages of the selection process. You can read more about that here.

Training continues up to and throughout the competition with the Team Manager available for all aspects of pastoral care.

The competition lasts for around 2 weeks in which teams participate in 4 debates on prepared motions released roughly 2 months before the competition and 4 impromptu debates for which the topic is given 1 hour before the start of the debate. After the inrounds, the teams are ranked by number of debates won, number of judges who voted for them and speaker points, and the top 16 teams then progress or 'break' to the knockout stages.

Support the Teams


Support the team on Twitter and Instagram @TeamEnglandWSDC or join the Team England at WSDC Facebook group.

Coaching team

We are extremely pleased to announce Richard Robinson as the Coach for Team England, having co-coached last year with Andrew Fitch. Andrew is this year’s Assistant Coach and Isabel Fidderman is reprising her role as Team Manager. Their dedication and knowledge will be supported by past WSDC winners Louis Collier and Eleanor Shearer as additional Assistant Coaches.

We're thrilled to announce this year's Team England for WSDC 2019 in Sri Lanka. The team are:

team england wsdc 3/12

We’re also pleased that 40% of the team attend state schools, 40% of the team are BAME, and for the first time ever, 80% of the team are female. A huge well done to those debaters that made it to the Development Squad too. It's a huge achievement to make it so far.

The ESU will be supporting the Coach Richard Robinson, Co-coach Andrew Fitch and the Team Manager Isabel Fidderman as they get the team ready.


Support the team on Twitter @TeamWalesWSDC or join the Team Wales at WSDC Facebook group.

After an intensive trials day we now have a Team Wales Development Squad! They'll train with Matt at which point the final team will be chosen to go to WSDC 2018 in Sri Lanka. Well done to everyone who attended and huge thank you to the selectors.

team wales dev squad 3-12

Coaching team

We are extremely pleased to announce Lucía Arce and Matt Hankin as the Co-Coaches for the team joining Sue Clements in her resumed post as Team Manager. Lucía is the current best speaker in Europe and has been a Chief Adjudicator of over 20 University competitions. She has extensive experience working as a trainer. Matt is a Semi-Finalist of the recent European University Debating Championships (EUDC), has broken at the World University Debating Championships (WUDC) and has made the finals of 8 competitions. He also has extensive adjudication and coaching experience.


Below you will find more details of the competition and information about how the team trials work.

An introduction to the competition
Competition format
Further Information