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29 Mar 2019

Three easy primary classroom debate ideas

Whether it’s used for a literacy-writing prompt or simply to improve pupils’ speaking and listening, debating is a valuable skill for pupils and the classroom makes for an ideal setting. Here we present three of our debate topics that have gone down really well in Primary classrooms, including with KS1 age groups.

Each question addresses a range of subject areas, so can provide great links to specific areas of the curriculum. With the busy teacher in mind, they don’t need much preparation or planning either.


  1. Would you rent your clothes?


Consider this topic the updated version of the age-old ‘Should you have to wear school uniform?’ literacy- writing prompt! When we asked this question, we considered the environmental impact of ‘fast fashion’ and included many high street brands with which Primary-age children would be very familiar.

Renting clothes was introduced at as an alternative way of consuming fashion: this way, you could have a different outfit every week that you then return. As a result, pupils could see that renting clothes could reduce the creation of new clothing and clothing waste. The environmental impact of clothes production is certainly undertaught, so this question provides a great way to introduce a new topic to pupils and is an alternative way to explore the environment during Science lessons. From what we have seen, the question really got children engaged.


  1. Would you go to a school run by students?


As you can imagine, this was a very popular topic when we posed it to schools! It can work really well as a school-wide question, especially if launching a school council for the first time. Remind pupils of the importance of including the ‘practical’ side of running a school: choosing which lessons to teach might be the exciting bit, but will they want to decide who will be in charge of cleaning, school dinners and of course the dreaded marking policy?

In several schools, this debate was extended to staff, too. We heard some great stories about schools getting everybody from site managers to lunchtime supervisors to speak in front of classes about their role. This definitely gives ‘school-wide’ a whole new meaning!


  1. Would you like to be a member of the Royal Family?


We asked this question in 2017, the year before Royal-Wedding-fever struck. It’s a useful question to include during topic lessons about monarchy. The question could also be approached from a totally different angle if you were to choose another period of history. For example, looking at the different responsibilities and duties royalty had in the Tutor times would undoubtedly get pupils to think twice before arguing their case or casting their vote…

Let us know how you get on, and don’t forget to check out our new weekly debate topics on votesforschools.com

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