Students at Hayesfield Girls’ School in Bath were treated to a unique form of political engagement on 13th March when they took part in a ‘digital surgery’ with Wera, via a video conference that brought her directly into their classroom...
Wera took part in the digital surgery from her office in Westminster, shortly before she went into the House of Commons chamber to take part in the debate on removing ‘No deal’ as an option in the Brexit process. During the surgery, topics discussed included the recent student climate strikes, Wera’s experience as a female MP, and what makes a democracy truly representative.
Digital surgeries are video conferences between politicians and their student constituents. They are a key component of social enterprise The Politics Project’s Digital Surgeries programme. This political literacy initiative, run in schools across the UK, equips students with the knowledge, skills and confidence to engage in politics and in their local communities. It builds trust between young people and politicians by enabling them to have direct conversations about the issues that matter to them, even when they are in Westminster or Brussels. So far, over 100 politicians from every UK-wide political party have taken part in the programme.
The Hayesfield students had taken part in several hours of preparatory workshops which focussed on improving their understanding of formal politics, ability to construct powerful questions, and their public speaking skills.
Year 9 student Sarah Clark, age 14, said “I thought it was really interesting to be able to talk to an MP and get a direct answer. I thought she was very informative but also challenged our views as well, which I thought was really good and made us think more.”
Reflecting on the digital surgery, Year 7 student Ella Barker, age 12 said: “It was awesome because the video call meant we were able to connect with her wherever she was.”
Wera said: “Last autumn I visited several secondary schools including Hayesfield to talk about democracy and to encourage students to engage in politics. The digital surgery was a wonderful way to continue this dialogue and helped make my work as an MP more tangible. I was impressed by the students’ questions and their conviction. I encourage all Bath schools to take part in the Digital Surgeries programme.”
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