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The Community Radio Station covering Central-Southern Dorset, run by volunteers and not-for-profit

Dorset Youth Parliament Debates Education and Identity

Young people from across Dorset were given a chance to debate topics close to their hearts at an event organised by the outgoing Member of Youth Parliament, Stanley Bowden. All the schools in Dorset were invited, and around 50 young people turned up to engage in a series of debates on issues affecting their lives and education.

Stanley Bowden commented on the event’s purpose, “I chose to have a debate because I think debates are an amazing way of learning about things. They push you to develop critical thinking skills and to question the world around you. They give you a sense of self which helps you to question your own beliefs.

“This was a beginner-friendly event for people who are interested in a gentle introduction in a safe space to how parliament works. I encourage anyone who enjoyed it to involve themselves with the Dorset Youth Council, schools councils or even to join or start their own debate club at their school.”

The first debate tackled the question of whether schools should be responsible for non-academic education. There were different opinions, with some suggesting schools could teach basic life skills through out-of-school clubs, while others believed that young people should take the initiative to learn these skills independently.

The second debate centred on school uniforms and their impact on young people’s identity and self-expression.

The discussions highlighted contrasting views, with some participants feeling that uniforms could diminish bullying and prepare students for professional life, whereas others argued that it didn’t let young people express their individuality and could lead to a bit of rebelling on the special days that they were allowed not to wear uniform.

The final debate, ‘Knowledge is Power’, questioned how knowledge shaped their perspectives. The audience felt that it is actions informed by knowledge, rather than knowledge for its own sake, that was important.

Amanda Davis, Corporate Director for Education, attended the event. She said: “It’s so exciting to hear the deep thinking from our young people.

“They are so aware of the world that they’re moving into as young adults and this was a chance for them to test their skills in challenging others in a safe space.

“They’ve given incredibly insightful comments in such a thoughtful and positive way, which is a valuable skill.

“Everyone entered into the debate with real enthusiasm and I was so pleased to hear some very valid points on both sides of the arguments. I think our future is in very good hands given the depth of thoughtfulness in our young people, expressed here this evening.”

The event concluded with an opportunity for everyone to mingle and discuss their thoughts over tea and biscuits, fostering a sense of community and shared learning among Dorset’s young people.

Stanley Bowden in Shire Hall wearing a 'dress-up' judge hat

Stanley Bowden in Shire Hall wearing a ‘dress-up’ judge hat