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Dulwich College understands that the benefits of debating go beyond the fun and the thrill of the competition, the camaraderie with teammates and the opportunities to travel all over England. Boys develop:

  • Critical thinking skills: critical analysis skills are developed along with the ability to propose workable solutions. Taught to synthesise vast quantities of information, boys who debate become adept at problem solving and innovative thinking.
  • Public speaking skills: debating provides a non-threatening environment to practice public speaking, improving boys’ confidence and success at interviews.
  • Academic skills: boys who debate excel in oral and written communication and greatly improve their reading comprehension. Debaters become independent learners with advanced research skills, highly valued by universities.
  • Emotional maturity: debate engages boys with serious subject matter in a mature environment. The discipline hones listening skills and helps pupils to recognise how others think.

There are currently around 60 boys in the Debating Society at Dulwich College (Years 7 to 13), which is open to both those who are interested in competing in debating competitions, and those who would simply like to improve their ability to engage with current affairs and political issues.

Nationally, Dulwich College debaters are:

  • Winners of Imperial Schools 2022.
  • Winners of LSE Schools 2019 and finalists in 2021.
  • Winners of Imperial Schools 2020, with a second Dulwich team breaking first.
  • Winners of The Cambridge Union Schools Debating Competition 2014, 2015 and 2019. Remarkably, in 2015, the final saw two Dulwich teams in the final, and in 2019, the Dulwich team broke first.
  • Winners of The Oxford Union Debating Competition 2014, 2015 and 2016, one of the most prestigious schools debating competitions in the world with over 800 teams competing.
  • Winners of The Durham Union Schools Debating Competition 2015 and topping the speaker rankings for the second year in a row for the College. In 2016, we had a novice team make the semi-final, success previously unheard of in such a huge competition.
  • Dulwich College is the only ever school to win Cambridge, Oxford & Durham with a single team (2015) and the only school to win all three competitions for two years in row (2014 and 2015).
  • Winners of the ESU (English Speaking Union) Schools Mace Debating Competition 2014 and 2015, one of the largest and most prestigious debating competitions in England – with both teams then progressing to the International Mace final.

Internationally, Dulwich debaters are:

  • Dulwich College debaters were chosen to be part of Team England and represent the country in the World Schools' Debating Championships 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2020.
  • In 2020, Joe Atkinson was selected for the England team.
  • In 2019, Luke Jensen-Jones was selected for the England team.
  • In 2018, Ben Joe was selected for the England team.
  • In 2017, Kenza Wilks was ranked the Best Speaker in the world at the World Schools’ Debating Championship.
  • In 2016, Kenza Wilks, Christoph Marshall and Seb Curtis represented Team London in the 5th Annual Old Parkland Debates, Texas, USA. Here they battled national teams and regional teams from the USA and were unanimously declared as the winners.
  • In 2016, Kenza Wilks was chosen as the youngest ever Team England Captain, leading the national team to victory in Stuttgart at the World Schools' Debating Championship.
  • In 2015, Raffy Marshall and Ronan Patrick competed in the World Schools’ Debating Championship in Singapore, with Ronan Patrick 9th best in the world.
  • In 2014, England won the World Schools’ Debating Championship in Thailand, where 46 countries competed with Louis Collier ranking as eighth best individual speaker, and Will Cook as Best Speaker.

Dulwich Debating Coach

Umar Cassim Buckus is the new coach for Dulwich College. Having been on the international debating circuit for almost ten years, and having experienced it at all levels, he has developed a rigorous approach to debating that will ensure the boys enter debating competitions feeling fully prepped and excited to test their skills. He is an accomplished judge with over 32 adjudicator breaks, including at the World Schools’ and World Universities’ Debating Championships in 2021, and he has been the Chief Adjudicator at a further 16 competitions. Watching countless debates and weighing the arguments and strategic approaches of teams from schools and universities all over the world has given him the ideal experience for coaching students at Dulwich. He looks forward to welcoming students from Years 7 to 13 to the club, from beginners just trying it out to seasoned debaters gunning for the win at all major competitions.

Dulwich Schools' Debating Competition

Dulwich annually host the Dulwich Schools' Debating Competition. A firm favourite of those who attend, this competition is growing yearly and we hope that it continues to grow as we organise our 12th annual competition on 24 September 2022. The competition will be convened by Umar Buckus, who has extensive experience in running large-scale tournaments with teams from over 30 countries. One of the first competitions in the debating season, Dulwich Schools' boasts an exceptional panel of judges and chief adjudicators attracting students and schools nationwide. From complete novices, to members of the national team, all students have personalised feedback from accomplished judges to help their skills improve. Whilst Dulwich students do not compete on the day, their presence is felt by them helping to navigate and shadow judge other schools.

For any enquiries about the competition, please email

History of Debating at Dulwich

Dulwich College has a long tradition of debating. Long before its first society was founded in the 1860s boys exercised their critical thinking and verbal dexterity through public speaking.

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