Former Student Union President Toby Millard, previously from Bohunt School chaired the debate while a variety of students including current Student Union members pitched some excellent questions to the main five parliamentary candidates; Damian Hinds, Peter Bisset, Alex Wilks, Richard Robinson and Peter Baillie. Damian Hinds kicked off by expressing how his party felt 'young people have a greater stake than ever before', whilst Peter Bisset explained that the Green party 'are the party of youth' adding 'there is a finite planet and we only have one'. Alex from the Labour Party, a recent university graduate himself, urged students to use their vote and said: 'Your choice will define our country'. Richard Robinson said the Liberal Democrats promoted the 'cradle to college' approach and confirmed his party would protect funding. Peter Baillie from UKIP confirmed his party promoted STEM subjects as these are considered most important in their opinion, and they would also bring back grammar schools.
Toby chaired the debate in true Dimbleby style using a bell to stop each politician after their allotted time. The audience responded with cheers to some answers and distaste at some. The debate covered lots of topics including immigration, Trident, same sex marriage, trade and agriculture, the EU referendum, sex education in schools and of course the matter of funding in education. One student asked “How can the difference in funding be justified for sixth forms?” to which there was a variety of responses from the candidates. The Green party assured students that they would promote Higher and Further Education and would hope to bring back Education Maintenance Allowances whilst the Labour candidate was unfortunately not sure on his party’s policy on this matter. Richard Robinson said that the Liberal Democrats would “guarantee real-term funding protection for education” and that “the financial situation should not undermine the viability of education for all” and that the party would be reviewing the difference in VAT payments for sixth form colleges. Damian Hinds suggested that the Conservatives would hope to “move towards equalisation” between school and college funding and the UKIP candidate said that his party sympathised with the frustration felt by sixth form colleges but provided no suggestion of what his party would do to solve the problem.
Students are strongly encouraged to vote in the General Election next Wednesday to help shape the future of the country #YouVoteYourVoice
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