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I’m going to use my debate skills to change the world


Discover Debating participant, St Mary's RC Primary School

two children in blue sschool uniform presenting to class in a classroom

Tucked away under a railway bridge in a tight knot of busy streets in Battersea, St Mary’s Roman Catholic Primary School in Battersea is typical of many of the schools on our Discover Debating programme. Although the area is undergoing massive transformation – the apartment blocks springing up in and around the redeveloped Battersea Power Station and the new American Embassy have been dubbed a ‘mini-Manhattan’ – scratch the surface and there are high degrees of poverty and need. St Mary’s has more than twice the national average of pupils on free school meals (FSM) or who speak English as an additional language (EAL).

Our children have lots to say but often they don't have the tools with which to say it. Discover Debating gives them those tools.

Jan Knight, teacher

St Mary's RC Primary School, Battersea

‘I’m really interested in promoting oracy,’ says Jan Knight, a teacher at the school who has led the Discover Debating programme in 2017/2018. ‘It builds confidence – some of our quieter children in particular have really gained in this respect. It also helps them with critical thinking because they don’t just make their point, they also have to say why and perhaps give an example, and that makes them better writers, too.’

6 reasons why Discover Debating is a perfect fit for your primary school…

Discover Debating has taught me to respect other people's opinions and to solve arguments without a lot of drama and problems.

I’m going to use my debate skills to change the world.

In debating club you get to express your feelings and your opinions, and you get to teach other people stuff and learn at the same time.

How it works


‘My colleague and I received a half day’s training at the outset of the project. This was very well run and extremely informative and we had the chance to participate in some of the same activities as the children.’


‘The children have attended a weekly after-school club and it has been a great success. The mentor knew just how to pitch the sessions and made it completely accessible to our pupils without ‘dumbing down’ the culture of debate. She made it fun – and all the children have increased in eloquence and confidence. It has been amazing for me as a teacher to have the opportunity to observe this.‘


‘My colleague and I will now take on the running of the club using the detailed plans we have been given. The mentor will return twice to see how we are progressing.’


‘The ESU offers continuing support and has asked us to assess the progress that the children are making using a simple program that they have devised.’

80% of Discover Debating pupils say they have learnt new ways to work together in a team

78% of Discover Debating pupils say it has helped them to think about other people’s opinions and ideas

70% of Discover Debating pupils say they feel more confident expressing themselves out loud
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