Students from the Bohunt Education Trust (BET) and Bedales Schools convened for the partnership’s fourth Question Time-style discussion on politics, current affairs and education. 

Panellists included former education secretary and MP for East Hampshire Damian Hinds; Mark Marande, principal at The Petersfield School (TPS) and Will Goldsmith, the head of Bedales Schools. 

Also on the panel were Sixth Form students Arabella Martin (Bohunt) and Margot Paisner (Bedales).

The discussion was chaired by Bohunt’s director of history, Rowena Hammal. 

More than 150 politics, economics, sociology, global awareness and history students from Bohunt School and Sixth Form, TPS and Bedales attended the event, modelled on the BBC’s Question Time, where panellists were quizzed by students on topics including teachers’ pay, censorship in literature and the charitable status of independent schools.

The event followed three similar events featuring Mr Hinds, which have been hosted by Bedales, Bohunt and – during the pandemic –  online, since 2019.

The event was the latest in a series of co-operative activities and workshops held between BET and Bedales, which has a developing partnership to share good practice, resources, training opportunities and student collaborations.

The student panellists were selected by their schools. 

Arabella is at Bohunt Sixth Form studying philosophy, English language and politics. She hopes to study law at university and become a barrister. 

She said: “I found the debate to be an extremely valuable experience, gaining an understanding of differing views from experienced members of the panel who represented private and state education. 

“The issues discussed were topical, engaging, complex and relevant to modern-day education. It was a thought-provoking experience and I thoroughly enjoyed representing Bohunt School and students.”

Margot is at Bedales Sixth Form, studying economics, politics and English and is hoping to read political and social literature at university.  

She said: “The panel was not only intellectually stimulating and engaging but also extremely thought-provoking. 

“The topics discussed were divisive and relevant. It was an amazing opportunity to show the genuine intrigue of the upcoming political youth, and converse with those so well informed.”

Mr Hinds said: “Once again, I was hugely impressed with the engagement from the students who demonstrated such passion and depth of understanding of the complex issues facing us all. 

“This event was another great example of the productive partnership between Bohunt and Bedales and it was a real pleasure to play a part in it.”

Mr Marande said: “The insight and thought demonstrated by our young panellists at the Question Time event was wonderful to see. As a first-time panellist, it was a pleasure to witness the inspiring political motivation of our students and to contribute to the strength of the BET/Bedales partnership.”

Mr Goldsmith said: “Many thanks to Bohunt for hosting the panel discussion, which has become an excellent annual fixture in our partnership. 

“The event was a hugely insightful opportunity for students to interact and quiz school and political leaders, and to learn about holding them to account for their actions and the decisions they make that affect people’s lives.”