Retford: Politicians take part in student Question Time

Students at Retford Post 16 Centre have held their own Question Time debate with politicians from across Bassetlaw.

More than 280 pupils watched the debate which saw MP John Mann, Notts County Council leader Alan Rhodes, Bassetlaw Council leader Simon Greaves and district councillor for Misterton, Hazel Brand share the panel with students Kyle Fitzpatrick and Joe Sheldon.

The event was organised by councillor Ian Campbell, as part of his regular sessions with year 12 and 13 students around debating skills and having a voice in politics.

Coun Campbell was impressed by the students at the event, which was chaired by a teacher at the Post 16 Centre.

He said: “The debate was fantastic; the students were really engaged and asked some important questions to our politicians.”

“This is the first debate we have done as a group at the Post 16 Centre and in January students will be going to the Houses of Parliament to meet other key figures.’’

The debate gave students the chance to questions politicians on both local and national issues.

Questions ranged from ones about maintaining standards despite cuts to emergency services to ones how Notts County Council is encouraging high tech industry.

Students also wanted answers to council budget cuts, including the library service.

Also discussed were apprenticeships, roadwork’s, bus service and cuts in care homes.

Kyle Fitzpatrick, one of the student panellists, said: “It’s not every day that a 17-year-old gets to debate and discuss important issues with actual politicians.”

“Both I and the audience found the experience highly interesting and insightful, though nerve wrecking at times.’’

Mr Mann closed the session by encouraging students to ‘make sure your voice is heard in Bassetlaw, make sure us politicians listen and when the time comes use your vote wisely.’

Maria Hall, student support manager said the event enabled pupils to gain a better understanding of debating skills.

She said: “I would have to say that I was deeply proud of the manner in which the students approached the debate and how they interacted so maturely with the members of the panel.”

“They were appreciative of the experience and students have also gained a better understanding of the skills behind effective debating.’’