History Debating Competitions

J.A. THOMPSON COMP (Yrs 10-11)

Registration closing date: 12 April 2024


For more information and to register, contact Christopher Duncan: [email protected]


The J.A. Thompson History Debating Competition will once again be running this year with continued HTANSW sponsorship. The big change for this year is the establishment of a Year 9 division in the competition. This has come about as a result of an approach from the HTANSW, as a merger with the Les Gordon Competition. The integrity of our competition remains the same with respect to the functioning of the competition, keeping in mind the expectations for age/stage across each division. Please refer to the Competition Handbook for more information. Schools retain the flexibility to only field teams in the divisions in which they wish to compete in. 

The 2024 competition will see the Preliminary Rounds organised in pools where each school debates the other teams in their pool for a place in the finals. These pools normally feature between 3 and 4 schools grouped together based on geographical convenience. If we have more schools/teams enter, this will need to be adjusted. Once these pools have been assigned, the Co-ordinator will release the draw and topics for each Preliminary Round. Schools will normally be able to submit up to two teams in Year 9, 10 and 11 (for a maximum of 6 teams from a single school). Students can be from younger age groups if necessary.


For more information and to register, please contact Christopher Duncan: [email protected]


2023 History Debating Rules - click here



There is flexibility when it comes to the organisation of debates but many schools in recent years have found it easier to complete their pool debates on schedule by having a school in the pool nominate themselves to host all of the pool debates on the one day. This serves to reduce the out of class time required, which schools have raised as an issue in the past. Therefore, that will again be strongly encouraged, but schools are still allowed to schedule debates on a round per round basis if an agreeable date cannot be found. If your school would be interested in hosting a day of debates, please let the Co-ordinator know when you register who will attempt to design the draw to accommodate this intention. 


An example of a history debating day may look like one of the following:

Pool with 4 teams

Two debates held over three sessions throughout the day. (Two Rooms required)

E.g. 9am - Team A vs Team B and Team C vs Team D

11am - Team A vs Team C and Team B vs Team D

1pm - Team D vs Team A and Team B vs Team C


Pool with 3 teams

One debate held over three sessions throughout the day. (One room required)

E.g. 9am - Team A vs Team B

11am - Team C vs Team A

1pm - Team B vs Team C


Schools may also elect to conduct debates in the preliminary rounds via Zoom/Teams/etc. Running a pool day online may also be feasible by having debates in separate breakout rooms, and using the same timeline above.



Having schools host a day of debates will also hopefully make it easier to organise experienced adjudicators. There is no entry fee for the competition, but the cost of adjudication will be shared by the schools involved in each pool. Adjudicators can be former students or adjudicators outsourced but must have sufficient history knowledge and experience so that they can satisfactorily judge a history debate. Adjudicators cannot be current staff members at either of the schools involved in a debate. Schools are to share details of adjudicators used with the co-ordinator as at times some schools may find it difficult to source adjudicators for a debate. The standard rate for adjudication in the competition is a minimum of $50 per debate, but schools may choose to pay a higher rate if this falls in line with other competitions. 


Further, adjudicators may also request extra payment if they are travelling particularly lengthy distances in order to make a debate (for example from Western Sydney to the Eastern Suburbs or North Shore, or vice versa), and this extra payment should regularly not exceed an extra $20, unless the adjudicator is able to provide evidence as to the requirement for payment beyond an extra $20. To assist in making the competition as accessible to all schools as possible the competition does not include an entry fee so the only cost throughout the season involves the payment of adjudicators.



Requests to enter teams in this year's competition are due by the End of Term 1, 12th April 2024. Pools and topics will be released to participating schools by the end of the school holidays. The deadline is primarily to allow for the full completion of the 2023 competition, as well as time for those schools still competing, to organise their teams for 2024. Preliminary round debates will need to be completed by the end of Term 2.

Please contact the co-ordinator Christoper Duncan at  [email protected] to register teams or for any enquiries.