Why we took part in Student Question Time: an insider view from our learners

Why we took part in Student Question Time: an insider view from our learners

We asked students answering questions alongside some of the region’s leading politicians on the Question Time panel, as well as the other learners working behind the scenes, for their views of an event that will last a lifetime, both in memories and on CVs.

While the cameras were rolling on our student panellists: Jemima Bedward from GCSEs, Keileigh Armiger from Childcare and Michael Jarkowski from Trafford College’s Sixth Form Centre, other students from different curriculum areas were practising their skills at one of the College’s most celebrated events.

Many VIPs may have been answering questions online this year, but before the event Hospitality students Jess Artingstall and Huey Edwards-Kiely were busy pulling out all the stops to make sure Aspire Restaurant was ready to receive special guests attending in person.

Before broadcasting started from the audio visual company, Keileigh Armiger, said: “I’m quite excited, this is such a great opportunity for young people to be answering questions with politicians and get our voices heard.”

TV & Film learners Meera Sharma, Eileen Boyunga and Joe Edwards made the most of state-of-the-art College cameras and mics to interview Group Principal James Scott, participating student panellists and the question master for the proceedings, ‘The Voice of Old Trafford’ Man Utd stadium announcer Alan Keegan.

Meera, who carried out the interviews, said: “This course offers the chance to learn lots of different skills. While I’m happy being in front of the camera, it’s also really interesting to know what goes on behind the scenes.”

Meera is considering going on to a career in marketing, while Joe is eying university as a next step, and Eileen plans to use her Student Question Time experience towards her ambition to direct and produce films.

Answering questions from neighbouring schools and colleges as well as asking one was Michael Jarkoswki from the student campaign body, the Equalities Council. He took part in Student Question Time at Stockport Town Hall last year.

Michael writes: “I was introduced to the Trafford College Group Student Question Time after being invited to apply to be a panellist in 2019. Members of the Equalities Council and other student participation groups were all encouraged to apply and represent students at the College Group. As someone with a keen interest in politics, I submitted an application because I was keen on sharing my views, believed I would be a good representative, and viewed the event as an unmissable opportunity to debate prominent politicians. After being chosen to be a panellist and thoroughly enjoying the event last year, I was delighted to be asked to be involved once again.

“The 2020 Question Time worked seamlessly as a virtual event, with the questions and quality of debate arguably surpassing the previous year. A range of brilliant and relevant questions were asked on issues including mental health, domestic violence, child poverty and discrimination. I asked the panel a question on the impact of COVID-19 on education and school closure, for which I was fascinated to know the views of our panel. Furthermore, I answered a question on the impact of Manchester Airport and air travel on the goal to reach net-zero carbon emissions in the region. It was great to hear a diverse range of views from our panellists, all providing a robust justification for their points of view. Particularly impressive were the students on the panel, whose responses reflecting on their personal experiences were most resonant.

“Since most college students are unable to vote, Question Time is an unrivalled opportunity to quiz politicians and share our views on the issues that matter to us. One of the advantages of a virtual event was the increased accessibility, enabling students from schools and colleges across Trafford to attend. Whether sat on the panel or watched from home, students were able to engage with the political process, learn debating skills and become more informed on current affairs. In an era of misinformation and polarisation, it is more important than ever to listen to facts and each other.

“The Student Question Time is undoubtedly one of the highlights of the college year, demonstrating the Trafford College Group’s commitment to student voice and representation. In addition, the event signposts the strong links the College Group has with local representatives, community organisations, and other schools and colleges. The Student Question Time 2020 wasn’t just an enjoyable and informative evening, but a display of the college’s commitment student voice that we can be proud of.”

Well said! We couldn’t be prouder of all our students who took part. If you would like to be considered for Student Question Time during our next academic year, please contact Student Engagement Lead Michelle.McLaughlin@tcg.ac.uk.