The Future is Bright
On Wednesday 26th April, Metro Mayor Dan Norris held the West of England’s first school summit at Aerospace Bristol. GCSE Students from across the region were presented with several activities from various companies offering potential career paths. Deloitte let loose their AI robot dog and ATKINS had an interactive Lego city highlighting the effects of flooding. Pupils were also afforded the opportunity to pitch their visions for the future to Mr Norris and an esteemed panel. Here’s some of the most pressing issues they suggested needed tackling and how.
There’ll be few disagreements that Climate Change is the biggest issue affecting the global population, and here was no exception. One passionate student queried the Metro Mayor on how we can plant more trees around the southwest. Mr Norris concurred, comparing Bristol’s lack of greenery to other major UK cities where they flourish. Furthermore, improving the city’s emissions has already taken place within the centre, but there’s plenty left to achieve.
Brought up amongst the climate change discussion, transport was a heavily featured topic. By making public services such as buses and trains cheaper, they become viable environmentally friendly options. Increasing their frequency and distance covered would help make them more dependable and inclusive. For students, these services are the only choice for independent medium-distance travel, so the suggestion of a free pass was met with rousing applause.
Inclusivity was at the heart of a pupil’s pitch to make sanitary products free for people who menstruate. Using data and statistics, one student articulately detailed how necessary pads and tampons are for more than half the population. Mentions of taxes and the cost-of-living crisis further strengthened her point; no one should be without these essentials. Blown away, the panel unanimously agreed, with Aerospace Bristol Chief Executive Sally Cordwell providing insight into her own experiences on the matter.
This naturally tied in with a theme of mental health. Opening up, a student bravely spoke about how difficult he found transitioning out from lockdown to the ‘new normal’. Understanding his anxieties, a recent graduate shared that missing her GCSE exams made A-Levels tougher but managed to power through. Mentors and counselling were a couple of the options considered on how we can cope in quite a turbulent time.
Lastly, but certainly not least, representatives from one school addressed the current issues with Grassroots sports. Due to a lack of money, resources have become more limited and has resulted in Physical Education’s stagnation. However, as the Metro Mayor pointed out, Education as a whole requires more support. Instead of an impasse, though, a valuable conversation about fundraising and charities was reached.
Overall, it’s this final point that emphasises why these School Summits are important. By opening a dialogue between politicians and students, we’re creating an engaged positive environment which can push the world further. Moreover, the idea of forming a student government was posed to continue regular conversations. Despite not being able to vote yet, their voices should be heard as their future is impacted too. Based on what I witnessed at the event, the future is in safe hands.