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Stamford Sixth Form Question Time

Stamford Sixth Form Question Time

Scarlett French-Pepper, Year 12, shares her report from Sixth Form Question Time:

“On an uncharacteristically warm March afternoon, the students of Stamford Sixth Form made their way into the Hall for an afternoon of intellectually stimulating political debate and discussion about current affairs.

“There were 6 speakers, each representing a different viewpoint from across the political spectrum: Kitty H (playing the role of a Labour MP), Annabel B (playing the role of a Guardian Journalist), Thomas N (playing the role of a Conservative MP), Ella S (playing the role of a Telegraph journalist) and teachers Mr Zacharias (moral/religious perspective) and Mrs Herdale (playing the role of a Financial Times journalist).

“The Question Time began with discussion about the current Ukraine and Russia situation. Each speaker addressed several important questions such as ‘Should Europe have seen the crisis coming sooner?’ and ‘Is the UK government doing enough to help refugees from Ukraine?’ Kitty H, speaking as a Labour MP, argued that the crisis was not a huge surprise given the build-up of tensions in recent years, however the situation was not seen by countries as an imminent crisis. Playing the role of a Conservative MP, Thomas N pointed out that there has been an escalation in tensions between Ukraine and Russia since the Crimean Crisis, and there was a build-up of troops on the Ukrainian border around Christmas time so potentially countries could have seen the crisis coming sooner. Points of clash soon emerged between the speakers over the refugee question: from a Telegraph journalist perspective, Ella S argued that the UK government was doing its best to deal with the refugee crisis and by offering grants to those who welcome Ukrainian immigrants into their homes, it demonstrates their willingness to help refugees. In response, Kitty (acting as Labour MP) pointed out that the UK is one of the only European countries to still make refugees have visas, and Annabel (acting as a Guardian Journalist) also questioned whether the £350 a month grant proposed by the government to give to those housing refugees would be enough. Mrs Herdale (from the perspective of the Financial Times) said that the government are promising to give councils £10,000 to deal with the influx of refugees, which should help with the situation. A question from the audience stirred more discussion, asking whether a no-fly zone should be put in place in Ukraine: Mr Zacharias (from a moral/religious perspective) pointed out the vast number of nuclear weapons that Russia possesses, warning that a no-fly zone could potentially escalate tensions and heighten the threat of war, and Ella and Kitty agreed that a no-fly zone could hamper evacuation efforts to help refugees.

6th form Question time

“The next topic was about Boris Johnson, with the chair posing questions such as: ‘Where is the Sue Gray report?’ and ‘Has Boris Johnson shown the necessary leadership throughout recent crises?’. In response to the first question, Kitty asked Thomas if the Prime minister was purposefully withholding the Sue Gray report, to which Thomas said that the report could not be published due to the ongoing police investigation. As a Telegraph journalist, Ella argued in response to the second question that Johnson has been a good leader because, despite a few mistakes, as a country we have made it through and remain united. However, as a Labour MP, Kitty pointed out that 164,000 people have died from Covid in the UK, which does not portray Johnson as a good leader. A member of the audience asked whether it was fair that Boris Johnson used the ongoing Ukrainian situation to put off having a second Scottish independence referendum, and Kitty argued that this was an example of Johnson’s lack of morality and poor leadership skills.

“The next question is very topical for Sixth Form students as we are part of the cohort that have had exams disrupted by Covid-19, ‘Was it fairer to examine students as we did last year?’ As a Guardian journalist, Annabel argued that it was the best option to do Teacher Assessed Grades last year, but grade inflation is an issue and is unfair on some students. Kitty agreed with Annabel, noting that elite private schools had seen huge grade inflation, which is unfair to students from other schools. Another topical question came in the form of ‘Are the recently announced changes to student loan repayments fair?’, Mrs Herdale explained that the new changes mean university loans will need to be paid sooner and for longer, but taxpayers will pay less under the system. Kitty said that the Labour party are unhappy with these changes as it acts as another barrier for students from lower income families going to university.

6th form Question time

“In true Question time fashion, the afternoon of debate ended with a more light-hearted topic: ‘If we were to replace Boris Johnson with a comedian from the UK, who would we choose?’ Mr Zacharias defined a comedian as somebody who should make people smile and raise questions, Thomas and Annabel agreed that Ricky Gervais would be a good replacement, Kitty suggested Graham Norton, Mrs Herdale suggested Romesh Ranganathan, and Ella thought that Jack Whitehall alongside his dad would be a good fit for the job!

“So, Stamford Sixth Form’s Question Time certainly provided some entertainment for students and teachers alike. The six speakers expertly conveyed the views of the organisations that they had been allocated to represent, and clearly had put a lot of research into their answers. Most importantly, the Question Time has shone a light on some serious topics and has sparked conversation and curiosity amongst students. I have no doubt debate is ongoing over who would be a better prime minister: Jack Whitehall or Ricky Gervais?”

By Scarlett French-Pepper Year 12.

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