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The de Ferrers Academy pupils  paid a visit by top Labour politician Angela Rayner

Angela Rayner comes to visit The de Ferrers Academy. 

Youngsters at de Ferrers Academy have been given the chance to debate politics with the Shadow Education Secretary Angela Rayner. Labour's head of education was given a tour of the school, and was impressed by what she called the "advanced thinking" of its approach to learning, and especially its use of technology in classrooms.

After a guided tour around the school and meeting dozens of pupils, Mrs Rayner took part in a questions and answers session with members of the school debate team, politics and economics students, and some young party members from the school.

She spoke for about an hour on a broad range of topics including the current state of the education system, radicalisation in society, being a working-class politician, and achieving gender equality in politics.

Speaking about education, she said she hoped to be able to remove politicians from the everyday decision making in schools.


She said: "I find that if you tell someone to do a job, and you tell them how to do it, then they tend to become a bit like machines, and they just do what they're told, they're not necessarily thinking for themselves, they become quite restricted. But if you can show them the bigger picture, you can tell them what you want to achieve, they will begin to use that expertise they already have much better.

"I have no right to be setting the curriculum - that should be in the hands of the experts, and I see my role as taking a step back and saying this is what we want to achieve. You wouldn't tell a heart surgeon how to do their job, or what machine to use, so why is it any different?"

Speaking about the role of education in tackling extremism, she said: "I think schools can be at the forefront of it, in terms of tackling racism as well, and I think schools have a big role to play in it.

"I think as society marginalises people more, you disengage with it. If you're told that that group is not part of you, you're not part of that group and you feel different, then that's the best way to radicalise someone and disengage them.

"When I was a young mum, I was told that I was a waste of space, I'll never be anything in my life, and it's not always as direct as that, it's subliminal, it's by the way the actions are. And eventually you think well why should I keep busting a gut to be part of this club, this club ain't for me.

"Then you've got someone over there saying they never wanted you in that club, come over to our club, we recognise you and we think you're brilliant. That in its simple terms is how you radicalise someone, make them feel that it's not their community and there's no place for them. And that's dangerous. We have a responsibility to ensure everyone feels valued in society.

"As inequality grows in the country, that's where radicalisation comes in because of the discrimination that people feel, why would you keep going into a system that doesn't recognise you.

"There's this idea that terrorists abroad, but they're home grown, and it's our problem because of the way in which we treat people, we don't respect people, and we don't give people the opportunity to be part of society, and the more we do that and the more we disadvantage people, the more you give weight to extremism."

Lewis Anderson, on behalf of the Youth Labour Party in Burton, said: "Myself and Jaimi Shrive were very pleased to welcome Angela to de Ferrers today - it makes a change for a politician to visit the school and actually speak to the students.

"Angela learned a lot about the use of iPads in lessons, and will certainly take heed of the benefits of technology to schools in her job as Shadow Education Secretary. The questions asked by students to Angela showed a wealth of political interest and knowledge which was developed in the answers given.

"Angela was then taken campaigning by some of the local constituency members for the upcoming borough council elections before visiting Thomas Alleynes High School in Uttoxeter to meet Shadow Education Minister, Gordon Marsden.

"Students and teachers described the visit as "inspirational", as Angela spoke about the future of education and politics as a whole. It was a truly great experience for all involved, and we would all be happy to welcome Angela back to Burton at any time."


To watch the Q&A in VIDEO form click on this link.


Thanks to Burton Mail.