Novice Criteria

DUS Chamber 2

As ever at Durham Schools 2017, we will be running a Novice Break, giving less experienced speakers the chance to speak in semi-finals and finals, competing against speakers of similar experience levels to them. This year, however, we have expanded this opportunity so that there are two categories of Junior and Senior novices.

In order to establish which speakers are novices, we have three criteria:

  1. It is the speaker’s first year of competitive debating (i.e. have not attended a competition in previous academic years).
  2. The speaker must not have broken to the finals day of an Oxford or Cambridge schools debating competition, excluding other novice/limited-age competitions (e.g. ICYD, NJDC, etc.) that have taken place this year.
  3. The speaker must not have broken at an ESU mace beyond the first round in competitive regions or to regionals in a non-competitive region
  4. The speaker must not have been selected for any national team.

When teams register at the competition, we will note down the ages of speakers in order to establish the most even division between the two brackets of Junior and Senior. Both speakers must be of the same bracket to be eligible for that category.

Only teams in which both speakers fulfil these criteria will be eligible for the novice break.


Frequently Asked Questions

Q: I have spoken at Oxford and/or Cambridge Schools finals day. Am I still a novice?

A: Yes, provided that you did not make the semi finals or final of those competitions.


Q: This is my first year of competitive debating, but I broke at ICYD finals day/NJDC/other novice or limited-age competition. Am I still a novice?

A: Yes. We do not count breaks at novice competitions. If, however, you have broken at any other schools competition, you are no longer considered a novice.


Q: This is my first year of competitive debating, but I am in my final year of school/sixth form. Am I still a novice?

A: Yes. Our novice criteria is based on the amount of debating experience that you have, not your age which is reflected in the two categories.


Q: I only did one debating competition before this academic year. Am I still a novice?

A: No. You must not have attended any debating competitions (including novice or limited-age competitions) before the academic year 2016/17 in order to qualify as a novice.

Q: Is my region competitive?

A: If you are unsure of your region’s competitive status, please contact our CAs on


If you are unsure as to whether you/one of your students is a novice, please contact us:


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