Let us do it: Students offer politicians advice

Pupils from Wendover's John Colet School take part in a democracy session at AVDC's Oculus - pictured is Cllr Steven Lambert
Pupils from Wendover's John Colet School take part in a democracy session at AVDC's Oculus - pictured is Cllr Steven Lambert
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A group of teenagers got their chance to grill politicians and find out how local democracy works.

Forty students from the John Colet , Wendover, went to Aylesbury Vale District Council to meet councillors Jenny Bloom, Chris Richards and Steven Lambert as part of its humanities course.

The students all from year 10 were set a task of managing finances and deciding how taxpayers cash should be spent.

Assistant headteacher Chris Measures said: “We wanted to give students the opportunity to see how the local authority operated and some of the important and difficult decisions they have to make.

“The students looked at all the services the council are responsible for and with the financial constraints had to decide what would be ring fenced and which ones would be forced to have larger cuts.”

Mr Measures said the results made for interesting reading and students spent most of last week debating where cuts should be made.

Liberal Democrat leader Steven Lambert said: “It’s certainly taught me a few lessons.

“As adults and councillors we get used to doing politics in a certain way and thinking in a certain way.

“It was interesting the debates they were having. They were really engaged with it so it does offer me hope for the future.”

Mr Lambert added that the majority of students were in favour of cutting spending on the Christmas lights.

Mr Measures said it was important for the school to challenge the perception of young people not being interested in politics.

“We were very impressed by the students engagement,” he said.

“We recognise there is a perception that younger people don’t engage with our democracy but within two or three years these people will be eligible to vote.

“They will certainly be exercising their right to vote and some of them might be willing to take on a role in local politics.”

The Q&A session also offered students the chance to get the councillors views and Mr Measures said they did not hold back.

He added: “They probably faced questions expressed in a different way. The councillors certainly had to stop and 
think.

“They had to answer some pretty straight and blunt questions from our students and not necessarily be able to put out a prepared and rehearsed answer.”