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Earlier this year, students from Uckfield Community Technology College studying politics, philosophy and critical thinking won a competition to have the BBC Radio 4 show ‘Any Questions’ broadcast live from the school on Friday 13 July. Although Friday 13th is known for bringing bad luck, the evening went very well and described as ‘successful’ by one of the teachers running the event, Dan Buschle. Attending the event beside an audience made up of parents, teachers and students were the panelists: David Starkey, Liz Kendall, Jeremy Hunt, Matthew Oakshot and with presenter Jonathan Dimbleby.
At the beginning of the event, Charles Hendry said it was ‘brilliant that students had put this together and was pleased to see how the night would go’ as at that moment students were still preparing back stage. What the audience didn’t see was behind the stage were students and some of the panelists choosing questions that audience members has submitted to be discussed on the show and then ten individuals were selected to be on air. One question submitted was by a student named James Baker. His question ‘Has the recent Tory blocking of the Liberal Democrats plans for Lord’s reform sparked the beginning of the end of the coalition government?’ was discussed on air.
Liz Kendall began with ‘it’s a good question’ and that it’s relevant to what’s been ‘discussed at Westminster at the moment’. This was the most discussed question of the night. Kendall continued the discussion to say that ‘Where do we want to take the country? When David Cameron was asked why he wanted to become Prime Minster he said because he thought he’d be rather good at it. You might question that.’ She seemed to be the best speaker of the night gaining the majority of applause from the audience, as Matthew Oakshot remarked as having the student’s ‘parents well trained’.
Kendall mentioned earlier ‘Politics seems so small when the problems seem so big’ and this seemed to summarise well how some audience members felt and wanted to know what was being done about it.
After the event some people involved in the event went to the Green Room to discuss the evening’s questions further off air. David Starkey said that the evening was ‘alright, but the politicians were extremely dull weren’t they? I suppose it comes with the job’. Assuming he was speaking from a student view of politicians this seems to mean he enjoyed the evening. Whereas Matthew Oakshot said how it was ‘the first time’ he’d been on the show, but loved the school’s ‘buzzy atmosphere’ and ‘wonderful students’ who made him ‘feel at home’.
Special thanks go to all the panelists and members of the BBC for bringing the event to Uckfield; the students for winning the competition, Dan Buschle; Helena Read; Nick Stoker and the music department for organising sound and equipment; members of the audience and everyone else involved who helped bring the wonderful evening together.
Content and interviews by Alice Stansfield, photography by Carl Goldsmith.