School Hustings Helps First Time VotersJanet Burrows
On Wednesday, The Sixth Form at Malton School held its very own hustings event. Candidates from all the main parties standing in the election for the Thirsk and Malton constituency were invited to attend the hour-long session. For many of the students this will be the first time they have had the opportunity to cast a vote in any election, and certainly the first time for a General Election. The event therefore aimed to give them the opportunity to hear what all the parties had to say to a young audience and so help inform their decision-making.
The six candidates, representing the Conservatives, Greens, one Independent, Labour, Lib Dems and the Social Democratic Party were each invited to make an opening statement on their party’s key messages as well as their views on issues important to the local community. The candidates then took questions from the student audience, which had been submitted prior to the event.
Nicky-Jo Cooper, Director of Sixth Form, who chaired the event was impressed by both the number of questions and breadth of issues students wished to raise with the candidates. Understandably, both fracking and the impact of Brexit featured highly, but there were also questions about local transport and the NHS as well as how parties would fund their manifesto pledges.
The event created a bit of a buzz among students as they listened to how candidates responded as well as to their actual answers. As would be expected on issues that really matter to people, there were occasional murmurings and either nods of agreement or shakes of disagreement at the candidates’ answers. But the overwhelming reaction of the students was positive. One student commented, “I was really struck by how they all cared so much about their party and what it stood for.” The seriousness of the event also hit home, with another student remarking, “The fact all the candidates came to see us meant a lot.”
Next Thursday, Election Day, the School will be holding its own mini-election, with Sixth Form students representing the different parties, and all students in both the Lower and Upper School having the opportunity to vote. However, unlike the national election, the School will be using modern technology to enable students to submit confidential electronic votes.
Malton School would like to thank all the candidates and representatives for taking time out of an extremely busy schedule to talk to students.