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Students hold pre-election debate with local candidates

Over 100 Strode’s students put Runnymede and Weybridge constituency candidates through their political paces at a recent student-chaired election debate. Dr Ben Spencer (Conservative), Councillor Robert King (Labour), Benjamin Smith (Green), and Councillor Don Whyte (Lib Dems, representing Robert O’Carroll) attended the pre-election hustings, held at the progressive sixth form college in Egham, to debate issues close to the heart of young people.

Brexit and a second referendum dominated the Q&A which was chaired by student leaders, Henry Denegri and Nathan Gage. Other issues high on the student political agenda included homelessness, education and sixth form funding, budgeting and priorities. The economy proved a divisive topic, especially regarding debt and borrowing. Students were also keen to explore disenfranchised groups, votes for 16s and how to inspire and engage students to be involved in politics. The political candidates all seem to agree on the importance of involving under 18s in political debate, although not all necessarily agreeing on the voting age being reduced to 16.

Commenting on the importance of political literacy Bernadette Joslin, Assistant Principal Student Services said: “’It was fantastic to see so many of our students engaged in social and political issues raised by the candidates’ debate.  Over 120 students and staff asked probing and stimulating questions of the local candidates and demonstrated they are passionate about politics.

“It is so important that young people feel involved in our political system and democracy and play their part in making it operate effectively.  At the College we believe therefore that an understanding of active citizenship is an essential part of our students’ wider development.”

To further encourage student participation in the forthcoming election the College has also had a successful voter registration drive and a mock ballot delivered the following results: 

Labour - 55

Liberal Democrats - 25

Conservatives - 14

Green - 13

Spoiled - 14

Abstained - 8

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