Structured debate is an entertaining and highly effective way of developing articulacy, oration and communication skills, and is an activity close to the heart of the school. There are both Junior and Senior debating teams in the school. In 2009 junior debaters reached the semi-final of the UCD L&H competition, while the seniors won the national Concern Worldwide trophy, their prize being a trip to Kenya. Debating is also scheduled as a part of the curriculum for Transition Year students. Younger students are catered for with an internal school debating club.

We have also been successful in the International Observer Mace competition; the Gael Linn senior debating competition; the Mental Health competition; the European Council invitational event; and in both the Model European Parliament and Model United Nations. In 2011 the school achieved the Irish/English double winning both Craobh an Phiarsaigh, the All-Ireland Championship in debating in Irish and The Concern All-Ireland Championship for debating in English. This feat had never before been achieved in 120 years of inter-colleges debating in Ireland. In their determination to do so, Sandford’s panel of speakers commits an extraordinary amount of time and energy to research, rehearsal and debate.