Yvette Cooper talks@altoncollege

Alton College alumna, Yvette Cooper, MP for Normanton, Pontefract and Castleford, previously at Eggar's School, returned last Friday to take part in an amazing Q&A session as part of a series of regular talks@altoncollege to give students insight into different careers and industries. 

President of the Students' Union, Tom Chapman, previously at Eggar's School, welcomed Yvette and together with current Principal Jane Machell and former Principal Michael Gray, treated her to a whistlestop tour of the campus before moving into the Wessex Arts Theatre café bar for lunch with the Students' Union. She said: 'I am extremely impressed by the new facilities on offer to students now - the new Sonardyne Centre for Engineering and the Austen Building. I also knew Martin Read when I was here, so it is lovely to see the hall as a memorial to him. The number of students here has also risen which is testament to how successful the College has become in a relatively short period of time.'

Yvette opened with an explanation of her path from Alton College, through studying a Politics, Philosophy and Economics degree at Oxford University into a life in politics, which she embarked on at the suggestion of a friend who told her to 'give it a go'. She talked about modern day politics and Westminster, outlining how difficult it can be as a female politician, telling students she was the first female minister ever to have taken maternity leave! She urged students to get involved and take interest in politics stressing the importance of how it affects them and their future.

Following her initial introductions, students were able to ask Yvette questions, some about politics, some more light-hearted. Topics involved discussing the refugee crisis, her political hero Nelson Mandela, why she chose the labour party, what her first day in Parliament was like and the gender pay gap. She explained the importance of encouraging girls to study Science Technology Engineering and Maths (STEM) subjects and aspire to work in those industries as she explained, that is where there is most scope for expansion, development and equality.

When asked about her time at Alton College she remembers fondly when students organised a sit-in against the proposal to close the canteen area at times other than dining times. She said: 'I am pleased that our industrial action has been honoured and it is nice to see that the refectory is open at all times for students to use!'.

It wasn't all about politics though, other questions including desert island disc selections and retorts on Ed Balls' (her husband) performance on Sport Relief Bake Off , his impressive sounding 'dad birthday cakes' and his adventures on Twitter. Yvette later tweeted it was 'Great to join @altoncollegesu, Principal Jane Machell and former Principal Mike Gray at always excellent Alton College'. 

If you would like to find out more about studying at one of Hampshire's top performing Colleges please visit www.altoncollege.ac.uk