Using debating to mark special days 

The last week has seen World Book Day and International Women’s Day. This week is British Science Week and World Speech Day is on Thursday. The calendar isn’t always so full, but there are many special days throughout the school year which teachers look to mark with assemblies, displays, workshops, guest speakers and other activities.

Student Debates can be an excellent way to engage young people in special days. They have some benefits such as they are free, they take very little teacher time and they can often be part of the curriculum or a co-curricular offer rather than an extra thing to have to arrange.

A debate could be held in a number of ways such as:

  • In a year group or whole school assembly 
  • In Tutor time
  • As a lunchtime or after school activity
  • In English lessons
  • In the lesson of the relevant subject 
  • Older pupils debating in the lessons of younger pupils 
  • In a debating club

If you want to add some fun then the debates could be done in costume (perfect for World Book Day) or be teacher v student debates.

Here are some ideas for topics:

World Book Day: “The film versions are never as good as the original books”

International Women’s Day: “There should be quotas for 50% women in Parliament” 

British Science week: “parents should be allowed to choose the genetic characteristics of their babies”

and some others still to come this year:

Earth Day, 22nd April: “This House believes that planting trees is more important than building houses”

World Fair Trade Day, 11 May: “This House prefers fair trade to development aid”

Roald Dahl Day, 13th September: “This House believes that sometimes you have to be a little bit naughty”  (or try a balloon debate with character from the novels or put Willy Wonka on trial for health and safety breaches)

European Day of Langauages, 26th September: Any debate held in a foreign language or “This house believes that we should all take a foreign language A Level”

Black History Month, October: “This house believes that there should not be a Black History Month”

World Space Week, 4-10 October: “This house would send a manned mission to mars”

World Mental Health Day, 10 October: “This house believes that social media is damaging for mental health”

Universal Children’s Day, 20 November: “This house would make it compulsory for parents to vaccinate their children” 

and some just for fun:

“This House would abolish Valentine’s day”

“This House believes in ghosts” (Halloween)

“This House believes we should get rid of Father Christmas”

If you are new to preparing debates with a class then take a look at our resources here.

You may also want to show your students a video of debate before they have a go themselves:

Have you held a debate to mark a special day? Please tell us about it and and we will share your success. Email or tweet @noisyclassroom

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