Bury St Edmunds: Debating society quiz former home secretary Charles Clarke

STUDENTS gained an insight into the world of politics during a visit from a former Home Secretary.

Labour politician and ex-Norwich South MP Charles Clarke faced questions from young members of the politics society at County Upper School in Bury St Edmunds.

Politically themed extra-curricular events including mock Cabinet meetings and public speakers were introduced at the school last year. Headteacher Vicky Neale said the idea was to inform students about the British political system and the big issues of the day.

Mr Clarke was invited to give a speech on the subject “Politics Matters”. In his talk, he touched on current affairs, delving into national and local issues ranging from the US presidential elections to Stansted Airport.

After the talk, the students were given a chance to ask questions and they covered a wide variety of topics. One asked if Mr Clarke felt the current voting system was fair, while another sought his opinion on whether the voting age should be lowered to 16. The subjects of Scottish independence and the forthcoming appointment of police crime commissioners were also explored.

Mrs Neale described the event as a huge success. She said: “Mr Clarke talked for about 20 minutes and then gave the students a chance to have their say. He seemed to enjoy it and we all certainly did.

“There were at least 60 who turned up, across all age ranges and all of the seats were full. It was a very lively debate and I think it is encouraging to see so many students taking an interest in politics.”

Most Read

Although the politics society is a social group, Mrs Neale said it had a vital role to play, adding: “It is very important to get young people engaged in politics from an early age and in the right way.

“Most of our students will be able to vote at the next general election so by giving them a chance to look at the way the system works and to find out about the big issues affecting the country, then hopefully they will be able to make the best use of their vote when the time comes.”

The school hopes to eventually host visitors from all of the main political parties.