Shadow minister quizzed by Blackpool students on 'narrow curriculum', pandemic learning and exams

The shadow education minister was invited to talk to Blackpool students about issues that are important to them.

Friday, 30th April 2021, 3:45 pm
Shadow Secretary of State for Education MP Kate Green during a video call with Blackpool students.

Kate Green, MP for Stretford and Urmston and Shadow Secretary of State for Education, held an hour-long web call with Blackpool Sixth Form College students.

Twenty students, some from the college's Politics Academy, quizzed the shadow minister on a variety of topics, including the impact of Coronavirus on learning and exams.

The talk was organised by Peter Wright, excellence programme co-ordinator at Blackpool Sixth Form College.

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Kate began the virtual discussion by asking the students for their views on elections and education and said politicians do not consult young people enough about their futures.

“We absolutely need to make sure we are hearing young people’s voices," said the MP.

During the discussion, Andrew Speight, Blackpool youth parliament representative, argued that decreasing the voting age from 18 to 16 would make politicians 'take young people more seriously'.

Politics Academy student Charlotte Tabeart asked the MP if she felt that the current education system meets the needs of young people.

Kate replied that the curriculum is 'too narrow to engage young people effectively' and said that more digital skills should be taught.

She also labelled a division between ‘academic’ and ‘vocational’ courses as 'unhelpful' and suggested that young people were being asked to specialise too early.

“The world is increasingly complex and fast-changing," she said, "We need a more adaptable system where people can re-train throughout their lives.”

The MP said that more attention should be paid to students' emotional well-being but that schools and colleges needed more support to do this.

When asked by politics student Max Hopkinson if students and staff should receive compensation for working from home during the pandemic, Kate said that the 'poorest families and communities have been hit the hardest' and that support for them was 'more important'.

“It was a really great opportunity and I was happy that I had my question answered by an MP," said Max.

Students also asked the shadow minister what one thing she would do to improve the education system.

“All the research shows that the most important thing we can do is invest more in the pre-school stage," she said.

"I would want to make sure that no future government could reduce funding to this vital service.”