Local schools visit Council for debate with the Mayor

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Last Updated: 15 Oct 2019 12:15pm

Primary school pupils in Tonbridge and Malling popped along to meet the Mayor of Tonbridge and Malling and debate some important issues at the Borough Council’s offices in Kings Hill on Friday 11 October.

A total of 43 pupils representing 11 schools across the borough met with the Mayor, Cllr Jill Anderson, to have a chat about her time as Mayor and take part in a two-hour debate in the Council Chamber on the following subjects:

  • Should we be concerned about air quality?
  • Should we have longer school days and then no homework?

The schools were invited by the Mayor with the aim of giving young residents in the borough the opportunity to learn more about local government and to express their views on issues that matter to them.   After the debate, the Mayor showed the young people around the Mayor’s Parlour, where she hosts many events and meetings throughout the year and chatted with them.

Mayor of Tonbridge and Malling, Cllr Jill Anderson says: “It was a pleasure to meet such an engaging group of young people who were so confident in expressing their views and debating the issues with intelligence and maturity. They raised some excellent points and I was very impressed with the way they listened to each other and showed respect for each other’s views. They showed a great deal of interest in everything around them.”

After hearing all the views on each subject, the children then voted on the key questions they had debated.  The children were largely in favour of doing more to tackle air quality. The results were as follows:

  • Should we be concerned about air quality?

Yes: 42                  No: 0               Maybe: 1

Key points raised included:

  • Air pollution is dangerous and can make us ill – for example can cause asthma and it can kill you
  • Babies and toddlers are at risk as they are in pushchairs and are nearer to the car exhausts so are breathing in the pollution
  • You should take notice of air pollution even though you can’t see it
  • People should be encouraged to walk, ride a bike, take the bus, train or use an electric car or car share
  • Put up posters to make people aware of air pollution
  • Should have more bus services for primary schools and not make bus passes so expensive
  • Create signposts and schemes for safer unpolluted ways to walk to school

Opinion was strongly in favour of not having longer school days, with the votes cast as follows:

  • Should we have longer school days and then no homework

Yes:  7             No: 29             Maybe: 7

Some said ‘yes’ because:

  • Children learn more at school than at home
  • Some children do not understand how to do the homework and their parents can’t help them
  • Time to shut off your mind and rest if you do not get homework
  • Parents teach in a different way from the teachers and can cause confusion
  • You can cheat when doing homework (ie using calculators for maths problems or using the internet)

While others thought ‘no’ because:

  • Teachers already have a long day at school anyway
  • There would be a lot more lesson planning for the teachers
  • Children would get tired if it was a longer day at school and the work standards could drop
  • Homework helps you to work independently and helps you to learn to manage your time

Sarah Hawkins, from Valley Invicta Primary School at Leybourne Chase, said: “The pupils were very enthusiastic about their visit today and it was a really good opportunity for them to be able to debate on such current issues. I was very proud at how well thought out their ideas were. It was a wonderful experience for them all and we’d all like to say a big thank you to the Mayor for inviting us along.”

Vicki Verrico from Long Mead Community Primary School, Tonbridge, said: “The children were excited to meet the Mayor and to take part in a real-life debate in the Council Chamber.  There were some really good points raised around their concerns about air quality and it was also interesting to hear their thoughts about having longer school days and no homework.  We were delighted to have had the chance to take part in this debate and will take back with us some interesting ideas.”