Students at Denefield School asked some tough questions yesterday. The event was well chaired, well attended and a good experience for everyone.
This is written up based on my notes, and quoted from the Reading Post. If anyone wants to add or change anything, please comment. (My comments are in italics).
The event was chaired by Tommy Gilchrist, vice-president for education at Reading University Student Union (RUSU), chaired the panel.
And organised with the help of Josh Harsant, Member of Youth Parliament for Reading, and now Deputy Head Boy at Denefield School. @joshharsant
Lib Dem Cllr Daisy Benson,
Conservative Cllr Emma Webster (Alok Sharma had a previous commitment with a local charity).
Labour Cllr Naz Sarkar
and Green Party Adrian Windisch.
The candidates made a 2 minute introductory speech:
Green; I spoke of fairness with elections and the environment. First past the post favours the big parties but PR is more fair for all.
Lab; Naz Sarkar, who is also a maths tutor at the school, said: “This election matters and it’s very close between Labour and the Tories nationally and locally. Your families, your relatives, make an enormous difference and they could determine whether a national Government is Labour or Conservative.”
LD; “When I first become interested in politics I was about your age. I grew up with a Conservative Government and the reason I got involved with the Liberal Democrats is because I was not happy with the status quo. One of the big issues for me is fairness. At 16 you are not allowed to vote and when I got elected to the council student voices were not heard very much.”
I got involved because I wanted to take the opportunity to change things on a local level.”
C; Spoke about health and the need for more politicians under 40.
Questions were taken in batches.
Q1a Tuition Fees?
Q1b Housing for young people?
LD; Phase out tuition fees after 6 years, use empty houses to solve problem.
C; More University places by 2010 (seems short notice to me). Loans and reduce stamp duty for first timers.
L; Opposed differential, more places for better Universities. Build more homes.
G; Cut tuition fees now. Use empty homes, use empty offices rather than build on green spaces. And its unfair that some people have second homes that are empty while others have none.
Q2a Hard for those on middle income to afford University?
Q2b What each party would do for those students who did not want to continue on to university?
Q2c Why is this the first time all of us have appeared together at this school?
G; I would be delighted to come to this school, but I haven't been asked before. “When I was younger there were lots of apprenticeship schemes. There are some now but a small number.”
LD; In regular contact with Johs, School buses, the first £10,000 a year not taxed. “We won’t leave it for six months to help those find a job, we would help them after three months and help with internships. We would also make minimum wage a standard and wouldn’t have young people paid less.”
C; “There are two very important areas to look at. Is it because they want an apprenticeship or work, or because they are scared of the financial implications?”
L; We need more jobs for the 18 to 24 year olds. Investment of £3.5 million in Prospect School.
“We need to make sure we target people and young people specifically. I do think we need more teachers in Parliament and young people.”
Q3 Future of 'A' levels questioned,
C; Make best use of time, exams at the end of 2 years.
L; Changes in rules make it harder to teach.
LD; Maidenhead schools plan to scrap 'A' levels, David Cameron plans to scrap some degrees.
G; 'A' levels used to be set at a certain percentage for each grade, now more and more get the top grade, some employers want to differentiate between the top students. I don't know the answer to this but I would listen to students and teachers to find out. Naz is right, Labour have changed the rules every few years, causing every profession including teachers to spend lots of time filling in forms.
We were asked to make some closing remarks;
G; I thanked the organisers and said I had learned something today.
L; Its a close race between Labour and Conservatives.
C; Our education policy is designed to help, look at our policies.
LD; One vote shouldn't count more than the others, LD got 1 in 4, with 1 in 3 LD would win.
You can follow on twitter, everyone should get involved.
liked the q from the girl "why is this the first time you've come to speak to us?" Need 2 listen to young people not just at election time!
5:40 PM Mar 25th via Tweetie
enjoyed the hustings at Denefield School. School bell went off during my bit! #rdg
5:21 PM Mar 25th via Tweetie
Back from Denefield School hustings went very well, enjoyed by all. No bickering, well chaired and some good questions. I will blog soon.
6:24 PM Mar 25th via web
@nazsarkar hasn't twittered since the last hustings.
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