Broxbourne school pupils speak up at County Hall
Published: 19 Oct 2017
Pupils from four Hertfordshire schools learned how to influence local decision-making during a special debate at County Hall.
The Sixth Form pupils from The Broxbourne School, Watford Grammar School for Girls, Hertfordshire and Essex High School in Bishop’s Stortford and The Thomas Alleyne Academy in Stevenage, were given the chance to debate a real life issue on whether to expand primary school places in a local school in order to meet rising demand.
They were given the chance to petition Hertfordshire County Council by role-playing as a member of the community, and then played the part of a councillor in making a final decision.
The event, hosted by the county council’s Chairman Richard Thake, was held on Thursday 12 October as part of Local Democracy Week, and was staged to help young people understand how local communities can make their view known.
Councillor Thake said: “The school debate is an essential part of local democracy week, not only because it provides young people with the opportunity to learn about the county council, but it also gives us councillors a chance to engage with them directly.
“Every year, we are continually astounded by the aptitude of the students taking part and the quality of the arguments they put forward. They were engaging and confident, and have demonstrated the importance of taking part in local democracy”
The students were also given guidance in their persuasive arguments from councillors Ian Reay, Judi Billing, Stephen Giles-Medhurst and William Wyatt-Lowe.
The Broxbourne School assistant director of sixth form, Angela Martino said: “This is a great opportunity for our young people to get involved in local politics. Although they’re not yet old enough to vote, the school debate helps to raise their awareness so when they are old enough they will have a better idea of why voting is so important.”
Student, Kayil Hassan, said: “In the future I want to go into politics and having watched big decisions being made in parliament on TV, I wanted to have more of an understanding as to how local councils run and make decisions.
“This was a great chance to mix with other people and have my say on issues that may affect me or my family in the future.”
The debate was part of a series of events being staged this week as part of Local Democracy Week (October 9-15).
Residents can have their say on a variety of topics, including council and health services by joining the Hertfordshire County Council Citizen Panel. Visit www.hertfordshire.gov.uk/citizenspanel