Mayor's debate with primary school pupils is a success

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Last Updated: 20 Feb 2019 8:03am

The Mayor of Tonbridge and Malling Cllr Pam Bates held another successful and thought-provoking debate with primary school pupils at the Borough Council’s offices in Kings Hill on Friday 18 January.

A total of 40 pupils representing 10 schools across the borough chatted to Mayor about her role as First Citizen of the borough and took part in a two-hour debate in the Council Chamber on the following subjects:

  • Is it worth recycling?
  • Should primary school children have mobile phones?

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 Pam, says: “This is the second primary school debate that I’ve held during my year as Mayor and I’m pleased to say that it was every bit as thought-provoking as the first.  Recycling is clearly very important to the pupils I spoke to and their enthusiasm and ideas for persuading more people to dispose of their rubbish in a sustainable way were quite inspiring.  They also raised some excellent points regarding the benefits and drawbacks of owning a mobile phone and I was very impressed by the mature way they listened to and discussed each other’s ideas.”

After hearing all the views on each subject, the children then voted on the key questions they had debated.  The results were as follows:

  • Is it worth recycling?

Yes:  40                       No:  0              Maybe:  0

All the pupils felt that it was worth recycling.  Key points raised included:

  • We should recycle to save the trees, animals and the planet.
  • Plastic comes from oil, which is running out.  If we recycle plastic, we will waste less oil therefore saving on energy and resources.
  • We can save money by recycling – for example by using just one bottle of water rather than buying a new bottle each time.
  • Rubbish that is not recycled can be blown in to the sea and harm sea life.
  • If we do not recycle there will be more problems with methane, which is harmful to the environment.
  • Some people do not recycle as well as others.
  • Should primary school children have mobile phones?

Yes:  29                       No:  11                        Maybe:  0

The majority of pupils taking part in the debate felt that primary school children should have mobile phones for safety reasons and to help prepare them for secondary school. Some felt phones should be handed after arriving at school while others thought that mobile phones could be a distraction. The dangers of cyber bullying and the issue of ‘too much screen time’ were also highlighted.

Sonya Starck, from St Georges C of E Primary School, Wrotham, said: “It was really good to hear the students expressing their views so clearly on two such important issues.  They rose to the challenge brilliantly and I’d like to say a big thank you to the mayor for inviting us along to the debate.”

Roz Outram, from Hildenborough C of E Primary School, said: “Taking part in a real-life debate with the Mayor in the Council Chamber was very exciting for all the students and we are delighted to have had the chance to take part. I was so proud of the confident way they put their points across – it was the perfect opportunity for them to think about their views on recycling and the use of mobile phones while learning more about local government at the same time.”

The schools taking part were: Plaxtol Primary School; St Georges C of E Primary School, Wrotham; Ightham Primary School; Hilden Oaks Preparatory School, Tonbridge; Hildenborough C of E Primary School; Stocks Green Primary School, Hildenborough; Slade Primary School, Tonbridge; More Park R C School, West Malling; Mereworth Primary School and Brookfield Junior School, Larkfield.