Power to the pupils

Rachel and Monisha discuss the use of Facebook SUS-151013-144405001
Rachel and Monisha discuss the use of Facebook SUS-151013-144405001

Local campaign group, ‘Don’t Count Yourself Out’ has been continuing its work with empowering young people, through hosting two debate sessions at Ark Blacklands Primary Academy.

James Bacon, founder of Don’t Count Yourself Out (which encourages young people to engage in the democratic process) says the big questions being asked this term have been eclectic in nature with many generated from the children. “These topics have ranged from, ‘How is the Monarchy benefitting our society? Should 11 year old children be allowed on Facebook? Should we test on animals? How should we manage bullies in schools? Should children have pocket money? Are we right to help the homeless?’,” he said.

James says he was very impressed with the quality of debating skills show by the 9-10 year olds. “Children are more astute than we give them credit for, as well as not being afraid to hold opinions. It was wonderful to see twenty seven avid debaters in one room getting stuck into some of these controversial debates.”

The debating sessions also gave children the opportunity to meet two special guests. Solomon Curtis, former Vice Chair of the British Youth Council helped James Bacon lead the session during the first week. Solomon expressed his thanks for being invited to “such an important club”, adding: “I was taken aback by the maturity and thought going into the discussions.”

The second week saw Councillor Andrew Batsford from Hastings Borough Council discuss the importance of democracy and help with the debates. He said: “I was delighted to see such a large group of young debaters, displaying lots of energy and articulating their arguments well.”

Summing up her views on the debates, Year 5 pupil, Immy Webb, said, “The debate club is a very good opportunity to learn how to speak about various topics and listen to other people’s views. It’s fun and interesting!”