Debate Mate is designed to tackle educational inequality and social immobility. The intervention aims to increase speaking and listening attainment and improve a range of higher-order thinking skills and non-cognitive abilities such as confidence, teamwork, and leadership.
The intervention is available to pupils of all abilities from Years 4 to 10. The core Debate Mate intervention is exclusively offered to non-selective state schools in areas of high child poverty. It consists of 14 weekly hour-long session with mentors.
The mentors are University students. Mentors are recruited and trained to run extra-curricular debate workshops in schools with an above average percentage of pupils eligible for Free School Meals. Mentors use the Debate Mate teaching resources to lead the after-school debate training. Debate mate works on a ratio of 1 mentor to 15 (secondary) or 12 (primary) pupils, and can work with any number of pupils, from one group to an entire year group.
Pupils can then put their skills to the test in two of the largest debating competitions in the UK.
Debate Mate Accelerate is aimed at pupils with challenging behaviour who are disengaged with education. Weekly hour-long sessions with university mentors who have additional classroom and behavioural management training.
Debate Mate Plus is for pupils from years 11 to 13 who would particularly benefit from debate coaching and careers/UCAS guidance. Weekly hour-long sessions with trained university mentors, and entry to national competitions, plus a focus on careers, UCAS, and work experience opportunities.
DebateBox Programme is for secondary pupils with challenging behaviour or at high-risk of exclusion. This includes one-hour back-to-back debate and Olympic boxing coaching designed to help pupils with their behaviour.
Debate Mate has not been included in any systematic reviews into the effectiveness of educational interventions.