Mayor's debate with primary school pupils is a sweet success

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Last Updated: 01 Apr 2019 11:57am

41 primary school students from a number of schools across the Borough joined the Mayor of Tonbridge and Malling Cllr Pam Bates for a debate about sugar consumption and the wearing of school uniform at the Borough Council’s offices in Kings Hill on Friday 29 March.

The students chatted to the Mayor about her role as First Citizen of the borough and then took part in a debate in the Council Chamber on the following subjects:

  • Should we be concerned about the amount of sugar in certain food and drinks?
  • Should schools ban birthday sweets?
  • Should all primary school children wear school uniform?

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 Bates, says: “The issue of high sugar levels so often ‘hidden’ in everyday foods and drinks is currently high on the public health agenda. Today we have had a very interesting discussion about this topic, and it is encouraging to hear the children’s views and to find that they are very aware of the health issues surrounding the intake of too much sugar. It points to them taking responsibility for their own health matters in the future.”

After all views had been heard, the students voted on the key questions they had debated.  The result was as follows:

  • Should we be concerned about the amount of sugar in certain food and drinks?

Yes:     40        No:      1

Comments included:

Yes because:

  • Sugar can make you hyperactive
  • Although it can give you an energy boost, a few hours later you will have an energy dip
  • Rots teeth
  • Can become obese
  • Can lead to illness such as high blood pressure, diabetes and heart disease
  • Sugar is addictive

No because:

  • If you are in a bad mood, sugar helps you feel better and gives you instant energy
  • Should schools ban birthday sweets?

Yes:  18           No:  23

A majority of the pupils felt that it was acceptable to have treats in school on a birthday but there were creditable concerns amongst the pupils about allergies, bullying and social exclusion.

  • Should all primary school children wear school uniform?

Yes:     33        No: 8

Comments included:

Yes because:

  • Uniform helps teachers to tell their pupils apart from other schools on school trips
  • Stops bullying if all are wearing the same clothes
  • Less stress on what to wear in the morning
  • Sense of belonging and symbolises their school
  • School uniform is smart
  • Costs less money
  • Expensive home clothes could get ruined

No because:

  • Some uniforms are expensive
  • Can be uncomfortable when wearing ties etc.

Tracey Hand from More Park School, West Malling, said: “We have had a rewarding time with the Mayor and the debate about sugar and school uniform has been a lively one! The children have found the whole experience really enjoyable and interesting.”

A teacher from Fosse Bank School, said: “We are very pleased to have been invited by the Mayor to take part in this debate, and the talks about the Youth Forum and sugar were very informative. The children were thrilled to be shown around the Mayor’s Parlour and Civic Reception and were really earnest in their discussions on the debating topics.”