School Debates

The Leeds Salon has run an annual school debating competition for years 10&11 students since 2014, as well as many other one-off competitions for both years 10&11 and sixth-form students. In 2023, we began an annual sixth-form competition in partnership with the Royal Armouries Museum (Leeds).

For our competitions, we use the format of the Academy of Ideas Debating Matters competition, for whom we’re also ‘Judging Partners’ – helping to run DM events in the north of England.

From 2016, we also presented The Leeds Salon Individual Prize at the Debating Matters Yorkshire Regional Final to the individual who best exemplifies the spirit of Enlightenment inquiry.

Our competitions rely on our growing list of Judges, who give up their time freely to engage with the young people of Leeds on contemporary issues.

If your school or college would like to take part in any of our competitions, or would like help running your own, please contact us at

Leeds Salon’s Annual Years 10&11 Debating Competition

2024 Champions Cardinal Heenan with Nat Edwards RAM (L) & John Connor WBD (R) (Photo Jo Caswell)

Our annual years 10&11 debating competition was first held in 2014 as a one-off event involving 3  North Leeds schools. In 2015, we expanded the competition to include qualifying rounds to involve more schools from across Leeds to win a place in the final.

Since 2023, leading transatlantic law firm Womble Bond Dickinson (Leeds) has been Headline Partners, making it The Womble Bond Dickinson / Leeds Salon Debating Competition.

The 2024 Final  took place Thursday 21st March at Womble Bond Dickinson’s Leeds offices, overlooking the River Aire, between Abbey Grange CofE Academy, Cardinal Heenan Catholic High, Guiseley School and Mount St Mary’s Catholic High.

Cardinal Heenan were declared champions and Abbey Grange were runners-up.

Prize Sponsors were Royal Armouries Museum Leeds, and  award-wining multi-media technology company Tectonic Interactive, and the Inter-Disciplinary Ethics Applied (IDEA) Centre of the University of Leeds who all contributed to the packages of prizes awarded to the winning team, runners-up and 3 individual prize winners: ‘Best Individual’ Iris Podesta, Guiseley School; ‘Highly Commended’ Korede Ayileka, Cardinal Heenan; and ‘Commended Individual’ Dan Garfield, Guiseley School.

FINAL details can be seen here.

Years 10&11 Finals: 2014 | 2015 | 2016 | 2017 | 2018 | 2019 | 2020 | 2022 | 2023 | 2024 

Royal Armouries Sixth-Form Debating Competition

Royal Armouries Sixth-Form Debating Competition 2023 Champions Grammar School at Leeds

Thursday 16th November saw the first Royal Armouries Sixth-Form Debating Competition, run in partnership with The Leeds Salon, of what we hope will be an annual event.

This first competition involved three schools in a round-robin format, and Grammar School at Leeds were declared Royal Armouries Museum Leeds Champions 2023 after winning both of their debate against Abbey Grange CofE Academy and Notre Dame Catholic Sixth-Form College.

Congratulations also Hannah de Dombal of Grammar School at Leeds for being nominated ‘Best Individual’ by panel judges: Royal Armouries Director General Nat Edwards and Royal Armouries’ Florence Symington and Rebecca Lowe, Debating Matters’ Geoff Kidder, leading surgeon Simon Kay OBE, artist and writer Annabel Carington and Leeds Salon’s Dan Clayton. And thank you to co-organiser and co-chair, the Royal Armouries’ Chloe Coleman.

We were delighted that it was also included as one of Debating Matters 20 for 20 events to celebrate Debating Matters 20th anniversary.

Other competitions we’ve ran:

Between 2016 and 2020 we ran the annual Tetley Years 10&11 Debating Competition for south and central Leeds schools: 2016, 2017, 2018, 20192020. As well as competing to be crowned Tetley Champions, the winners would go on to compete against the north Leeds qualifying round winners in the years10&11 annual final. 

We’ve also ran: Lawnswood School Summer Competition (2014); Ralph Thoresby School Debating Competition as part of Headingley LitFest (2015); Jordans Solicitors Wakefield Sixth-Form Competition 2015 & 2016; the first competition between Leeds City College & Leeds College of Building (2016);  Lightcliffe Academy (Halifax) Summer Sixth-Form Competition (2016); South Leeds Academy Christmas Debating Competition (2016); ‘Debate Outwood’ Sixth-Form Competition between schools from Outwood Academy chain (2017), Gateacre School (Liverpool) Sixth-Form Debate; (2018); NHS Digital/Debating Matters Sixth-Form Competition at Thackray Medical Museum (2018); Bolton Sixth-Form College Debating Competition (2019); ‘Debate Outwood’ Years 10&11 Competition between schools from Outwood Academy chain (2019).