Debating and public speaking

By participating in public speaking and debating, girls learn how to analyse differing perspectives as well as communicate their ideas confidently and persuasively.

The School has established a reputation for consistent results in competitive debating. Our debating program builds life-long skills for our girls. By participating in debating, they develop their teamwork, speaking and listening skills. In the Junior School, group debating activities are open to girls from Year 4 onwards and these continue throughout Senior School.

Junior School debating

Girls in Year 4 may join the Year 4 friendly debating group. This group gives the Year 4 girls an opportunity to start developing debating skills. The group meets one afternoon each week at school in Terms 2 and 3.

Girls in Years 5 and 6 have the opportunity to join one of three debating groups. The IPSHA debating competition for Year 5 girls competes during school time on Friday afternoons during Terms 2, 3 and 4. The ISDA competition for Year 6 girls competes on Friday evenings in Terms 1 and 2. The SDN competition for Year 6 girls competes on Friday evenings in Term 3. Additionally girls in Years 5 and 6 are able to build their debating skills by attending Debating Squad Training. No previous experience is needed, just a willingness to work as part of a team and to present clearly spoken arguments.


Senior School debating

The debating squad runs throughout the year. Girls receive coaching and debate socially in internal debates and against local schools. By attending this social, non-competitive Debating Club, students can focus on skill development and confidence. House debating is a great Abbotsleigh tradition and is an annual event.

Competition debating

Abbotsleigh participates in the following major competitions:

Independent Schools Debating Association (ISDA), where 32 schools are divided into four zones.

The Archdale Debating Competition, which was established in the 1970s in honour of Miss Betty Archdale, former Headmistress of Abbotsleigh and a strong advocate of educational opportunities for girls. Today 24 schools are divided into three zones; and

Sydney Debating Network (SDN), which involves eight schools from Sydney’s north.


Public speaking

The public speaking program teaches confidence, persuasive speaking skills and raises awareness of global issues. Students compete in the following competitions:

  • Rostrum Voice of Youth
  • Legacy Public Speaking
  • The Plain English Speaking Award
  • IGSA Festival of Speech

Many of these competitions provide the opportunity to progress to state and national finals. Within Abbotsleigh, there is a weekly public speaking workshop open to all students from Years 7 to 12.