Party leader gets a grilling from pupils

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Students at Saint John Houghton Catholic Voluntary Academy in Kirk Hallam have grilled Green Party leader Natalie Bennett on a range of subjects ranging from terrorism to university fees.

The visit was arranged by humanities teacher Brent Poland in a bid to broaden students’ horizons, give them an understanding of politics and get them thinking about world and local issues.

Natalie met with students from various groups at the academy including the justice and peace group, the eco-garden club, the chaplaincy and oasis teams, the fairtrade group and the student council.

She quizzed members of the student council about their roles, what changes they had made at the academy and what their plans for the future were.

Natalie also visited a class of humanities students and answered questions that they had prepared.

She told the students how important it was that they had an understanding of politics, especially if the voting age was ever lowered.

She said: “It’s really important that our young people are educated about politics.

“There are not enough young people voting and maybe in school you could talk about the importance of registering to vote when you are old enough.

“It’s very important to register so that you can have your say.

“I was really pleased to hear about your student council and that you have elected representatives in each year, if people are doing that from a very young age then hopefully politics will just be seen as part of life.”

Students then asked Natalie if the Green Party could be as big as the Conservatives or Labour, why the Green Party was against nuclear power, how they would control climate change, her views on university fees and what could be done to deal with terrorism.

Mr Poland said Natalie’s visit had been a fantastic opportunity for his students.

He said: “I wanted our Humanities students to pose difficult questions about a range of issues and it was a great experience for them to actually speak to someone who can affect change.

“Natalie is also a positive role model for our girls and we hope this will inspire them to believe that they can be leaders one day.

“It’s a good opportunity to see someone who is a professional politician, ask her questions and then consider her solutions.

“I really just wanted to see what they were capable of and I’m very proud of the way in which they conducted themselves.”