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Schools' Challenge is the national general knowledge competition for schools in the United Kingdommarker. It uses the same basic rules as University Challenge, although it is affiliated with neither the game nor the television show.

Schools' Challenge has been running since 1979, and is divided into two sections. Senior Schools' Challenge is for students aged up to 18, with no lower age restriction. In practice the teams tend to draw on Forms III to Upper VI. Each team comprises four members, two of whom must be no older than the normal age for a For IV student (in 2008/9, born on or after 1 September 1993, or 1 August 1993 in Northern Ireland). The other two can be of any age. Junior Schools' Challenge is for students up to and including the normal age for a Form II student, or preparatory school pupils: in 2008/9, born on or after 1 September 1995 (1 August 1995 in Northern Ireland). Again, there are four members in each team but there are no restrictions on the numbers of any students from a particular age group in this competition.

The competition is divided this way because of the incongruence between the independent school system and grammar or comprehensive schools. In some independent school systems students attend a preparatory school until the age of 13, after which time they transfer to another school. Schools Challenge has had to work around this so that no school has an unfair advantage in terms of age.

The competition is divided up into regions, much like Secondary School public speaking or debating competitions. Each region has a coordinator, the 'Regional Organiser, who in turn answers to the national organizers.

The eight winners of regional competitions take part in the national finals to contest the Schools' Challenge Trophy. Teams who lose in the first round of this contest enter the repechage contest for the Schools' Challenge Plate (and 5th overall place). Finals are usually contested in a single day at a central venue.

Competition History - Senior

Year Winners Runners-up Plate winners
1980 King Edward's School, Birminghammarker unknown unknown
1981 Monmouth Schoolmarker unknown unknown
1982 Brentwood School unknown unknown
1983 King Henry VIII School Abergavennymarker unknown unknown
1984 Monmouth Schoolmarker unknown unknown
1985 Norwich School unknown unknown
1986 Royal Grammar School, Guildfordmarker unknown unknown
1987 Dean Close Schoolmarker unknown unknown
1988 The Grange School unknown unknown
1989 Aylesbury Grammar Schoolmarker unknown unknown
1990 King Henry VIII Schoolmarker unknown unknown
1991 Nottingham High Schoolmarker unknown unknown
1992 Bryanston Schoolmarker unknown unknown
1993 Maidstone Grammar Schoolmarker unknown unknown
1994 Maidstone Grammar Schoolmarker unknown unknown
1995 Maidstone Grammar Schoolmarker Lancaster Royal Grammar Schoolmarker Merchant Taylors' School, Crosbymarker
1996 King Edward's School, Birminghammarker Merchant Taylors' School, Crosbymarker unknown
1997 Merchant Taylors' School, Crosbymarker unknown unknown
1998 The King's School, Canterburymarker unknown unknown
1999 Devonport High School for Boysmarker unknown unknown
2000 Colchester Royal Grammar Schoolmarker unknown unknown
2001 The King's School, Canterburymarker unknown unknown
2002 Abbey Christian Brothers' Grammar School unknown unknown
2003 King Edward's School, Birminghammarker Chris Lambert unknown
2004 King Edward's School, Birminghammarker Westminster Schoolmarker unknown
2005 Westminster Schoolmarker Manchester Grammar Schoolmarker unknown
2006 Westminster Schoolmarker Solihull Schoolmarker unknown
2007 Westminster Schoolmarker Bedford Schoolmarker unknown
2008 Westminster Schoolmarker Manchester Grammar Schoolmarker unknown
2009 Westminster Schoolmarker Lancaster Royal Grammar Schoolmarker Solihull Schoolmarker


Competition History - Junior

Year Winners Runners-up Plate Winners)
1980 Port Regis Prep Schoolmarker unknown unknown
1981 Royal Grammar School, High Wycombemarker unknown unknown
1982 unknown unknown unknown
1983 unknown unknown unknown
1984 King's Hall School, Taunton unknown unknown
1985 Eagle House unknown unknown
1986 Nottingham High Schoolmarker unknown unknown
1987 King Edward VI High School for Girlsmarker unknown unknown
1988 Millfield Preparatory Schoolmarker unknown unknown
1989 Bablake Schoolmarker unknown unknown
1990 Exeter Schoolmarker unknown unknown
1991 St Peter’s School, Lympstone unknown unknown
1992 Hutchesons' Grammar Schoolmarker unknown unknown
1993 Dulwich College Preparatory Schoolmarker unknown unknown
1994 Hutchesons' Grammar Schoolmarker unknown unknown
1995 Lancaster Royal Grammar Schoolmarker unknown unknown
1996 King Edward VII School unknown unknown
1997 Devonport High School for Boysmarker unknown unknown
1998 King Edward's School, Birminghammarker unknown unknown
1999 King Edward's School, Birminghammarker unknown unknown
2000 Prebendal Schoolmarker unknown unknown
2001 Bourne Grammar Schoolmarker unknown unknown
2002 George Heriot’s Schoolmarker unknown unknown
2003 Manchester Grammar Schoolmarker unknown unknown
2004 Milbourne Lodge Preparatory School unknown unknown
2005 The Cathedral School, Llandaff unknown unknown
2006 The Cathedral School, Llandaff The Junior King's School, Canterbury King Edward's School, Birminghammarker
2007 Lancaster Royal Grammar Schoolmarker unknown Queen Mary's Grammar Schoolmarker
2008 Lancaster Royal Grammar Schoolmarker Queen Mary's Grammar Schoolmarker Milbourne Lodge Preparatory School
2009 Merchant Taylors' School, Crosbymarker Magdalen College School Devonport High School


Rules

The game is played to similar rules to University Challenge. Starter questions are asked to all contestants and the first to buzz must answer immediately (or the full question is passed to the other team). The team that correctly answers a buzzer question is then asked three 'bonus' questions which they may confer on and which may be passed to the other team. The main differences between Schools' Challenge and University Challenge are:

  • No points are deducted for incorrectly interrupting a starter question on the buzzer.
  • Bonus questions are worth 10 points each and are passed across to the other team if answered incorrectly.
  • A team answering the starter and all three subsequent bonuses correctly gains an extra bonus of 10 points: thus 50 points are available per round.
  • There are no picture or music rounds.


Equipment

8-player lockout buzzers, common in quizzes of this type are used and are supplied by tournament organisers if a hosting school cannot supply the equipment. While tournament rules do not specify a manufacturer, the Jaser Quizmaster system is the de facto standard in many regions.

Organisers

The national competition is organised by Paul and Sue Sims, assisted by regional co-ordinators. Further information is on the Schools' Challenge section of 123quiz


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