Barry Comprehensive School is hoping to offer politics as a subject course from next year onwards and has been visited by the Political Studies Association and Rt Hon Alun Cairns MP, to give pupils and insight into what could be in store for them.
Twelve pupils from Years 11 and 12 sat down for a round table discussion with Mr Cairns and Professor Einion Dafydd from Cardiff University, to discuss issues in politics.
The main topic of discussion was Brexit, with particular focus on trade deals. One pupil expressed worries about the British meat market in relation to a trade deal with New Zealand. Another raised concerns about Ford moving their engine factory out of Bridgend if a satisfactory trade deal could not be made with the remaining member states of the EU. Mr Cairns expressed his confidence in the UK Government’s ability to negotiate a good deal for Britain with the remaining states of the EU, reminding pupils of the UK’s trade deficit with the continent and the fragmented nature of the decision making with the bloc.
Professor Dafydd gave the alternative view to the pupils and talked about issues surrounding Brexit from the perspective of the devolved administrations.
The Vale MP was also quizzed on his voting record in Parliament, with one of the pupils taking on the style of Jeremy Paxman to put Mr Cairns on the spot about controversial votes in the Commons.
Alun Cairns said: “It was a pleasure to bring the Political Studies Association to Barry Comprehensive so that the pupils could get a taste of engaging with politics before it is available for study next year. The pupils had done their research and asked question some excellent questions.”
Professor Einion Dafydd, lecturer in the University of Cardiff, said: “It was refreshing to see how eager these students were to engage with the key issues facing society: how those in power should respond to the challenges that we currently face, how we should expect our elected representatives to act, and how Wales should be governed following Brexit.
“The devolved institutions in Wales are becoming increasingly important; they make laws and provide a range of public services. It’s essential that citizens of all ages have a good understanding of how the democratic decision-making process works.”
The Political Studies Association’s Interim CEO, Sarah Brown, said: “The Political Studies Association is passionate about developing the study of politics in schools, and I am delighted to see Alun Cairns supporting us.
“Access to those working at the very heart of politics is essential in bringing political science off the page and into the lives of young people.”