The Great Debate 2021-22

The HA's public speaking competition for students aged 16-19

What is the Great Debate?

The Great Debate is a public speaking competition where students have five minutes to present their speech arguing their answer to the question. 

2022 is Queen Elizabeth II platinum jubilee. As the Queen is our patron we have chosen to use her lengthy reign as inspiration to examine some of the ways that the world has changed in that time. 

The 70-year reign of Queen Elizabeth II has seen global and widespread changes including in: societal infrastructure, industry, rural life, the environment, and ideas: Which changes of the last 70 years have affected your local area the most?

Students may want to consider topics around: different types of employment; the houses or accommodation that people live in; the technology in people's lives; the different types of communities that are in their area; food and eating choices; leisure activities; and what they think is important about the area they live in.

Research for this topic could include: newspaper archives, local archives, speaking with older relatives or people in their community; and local museums.

Download the 'rules' and our 'Public speaking guidance' for helpful tips on preparing a speech. 

The Great Debate is divided into regional heats that take place across the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland in the autumn, culminating in a Grand Final.

Why take part?

The competition is an ideal opportunity for students to gain valuable experience in speaking to an audience and developing their debating skills, confidence and self-esteem. 

The winner and runners-up of the competition will receive a cash prize, and their school will win prizes from our sponsors. All finalists will also receive free student membership of the Historical Association. 

Read our 'Guidance for teachers' to get an idea on how to introduce public speaking and the Great Debate to your students. 
Watch our video on why you should take part: What is the Great Debate?

Local Heats

Once you have chosen your heat please complete our entry form for each student taking part and email to

Please can entry forms be submitted at least a week before the heat. 

December Dates

January Dates 

Birmingham - 9 December 2021
- Aldridge School

Bolton - 10 January 2022
- Bolton School Girls' Division

Blackburn - 15 December 2021
- Pleckgate High School

Bradford - 18 January 2021
- Bradford Grammar School

Bristol - 1 December 2021
- University of Bristol Humanities Building

 Exeter - 31 January 2022

Oxford - 2 December 2021
- Magdalen College

High Wycombe - 27 January 2022
Pipers Corner School

London SE - 27 January 2022
- Bullers Wood School 

London N - 26 January 2022
- Avanti House School

North Wales - 19 January 2022
- Ysgol Eirias

Nottingham - 20 January 2022
- Nottingham High School

Cambridge - 27 January 2022
- Cambridge Assessment Offices 

Wirral - January 2022 (NB date change)
- Upton Hall School

Shrewsbury - 27 January 2022 (NB date change)
- Shrewsbury High School 

Winchester - 20 January 2022
- Peter Symonds College

Holt - January 2022 (NB date change)
- Gresham's School

Limerick Republic of Ireland - 11 January 2022 (NB date change)
- Villiers School

York - 27 January 2022 (NB date change)
- Bootham School 

Canterbury - Postponed
- St Augustine's, Gateway Chamber

Skipton - 20 January 2022 (NB date change)
- Ermysted's Grammar School

The final for this year will be taking place at Windsor Castle on Saturday 26 March 2022. It is being run in partnership with 

All documents and forms can be downloaded below. 

Watch the 2020 winner for inspiration

Can't see the video? Download it here

If you have any questions take a look at our FAQ's or email 

Interested in hosting a heat for the next Great Debate? Then complete this form

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