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Debate Mate [2022]

Talent and Skills

Impact for scaleups


Primary and secondary schools covered in the last 12 months


Students reached per teaching week


Pupils said they feel more confident speaking up in class


Pupils more likely to put ideas forward when working in a group


Pupils feel the skills gained would help them succeed in future


Teachers believe students are better at critically responding to arguments

Key sectors

Impact ventures / Social Impact Life Sciences & Biotech Building & Construction Manufacturing / Advanced Manufacturing Creative, digital, film, games & media Professional services Defence & security Technology & Communications Engineering / Advanced Engineering Transport & Logistics Environmental Science & Technology Farming, fisheries & forestry Finance Food & drink Healthcare

Debate Mate has been delivering debating clubs in schools in areas of high social deprivation to enhance key employability skills since 2007. Providing skills much in demand by scaleups and businesses across the economy, debating develops transferable skills in teamwork, communication, core confidence, and critical and creative thinking.

The charity focuses exclusively on delivering programmes in primary schools which have had more than 23% of pupils on free school meals for the past six years and 28% in secondary schools. In the last year, the school programme has reached over 4,000 students per teaching week from 200 primary and secondary schools in seven cities across the UK.

The programme plays a major role in developing a range of the key future skills much in demand by scaleups, it supports and enhances critical and analytical thinking because they require students to analyse a topic and produce arguments for and against it. They also have to exercise judgment and decision making and may have to argue for a side that they don’t necessarily agree with, which requires critical analysis, problem solving, and empathy. In a 2021 survey 80% of respondents said they felt more confident speaking up in class and 86% said they were more likely to put their ideas forward when working in a group as a result of the programme.

To support the ongoing development of Debate Mate Schools through reinvesting profits, the programme’s parent company Debate Mate Ltd also designs and delivers communication and leadership training for the professional world, including early careers as well as diversity, equity and inclusion training. It has worked with a number of large corporates but is now seeing demand for its services in scaling companies. 

Debate Mate’s Boardroom to Classroom element facilitates increased encounters between students and employers. Through this curated interaction students are able to share their debating expertise with professionals, while the professionals share their experience of the world of work and offer meaningful careers advice and understanding of entrepreneurship. 

Debate Mate also delivers a series of summer programmes to disadvantaged young people outside the UK; countries include Mexico, Zambia, Kenya, Nepal and Rwanda, with sessions designed to equip participants to run their own debate clubs in their schools or communities after the programme ends. Debate Mate Virtual furthers this international reach with more than 2,500 students from over 40 countries.

Debate Mate [2022] website