Students hold the Chancellor of the Exchequer to account in tough Q&A

Strode’s College students put the Chancellor of the Exchequer, The Rt Hon Philip Hammond MP, under the spotlight during a tough Q&A session on issues close to the heart of young people when he visited the progressive Sixth Form College in Egham last week.

The students held the Chancellor, who is also the Member of Parliament for Runnymede and Weybridge, to account as he tackled a number of questions on cuts to FE college funding, lowering the voting age, Brexit and the government’s foreign policy. They also gave the Chancellor a resolution passed by the college’s Student Parliament about reductions to FE college funding which students think is affecting their college experience and called on the government to raise funding by £200 per student.

The College’s Student Union Executive organised the visit which was expertly chaired by Student Union President Ben Roberts, a second year A level student studying Economics, Politics and History at Strode’s. Ben commented on this opportunity and said: “'It was a privilege to be able to question such an influential figure of British politics. Mr Hammond's answers were engaging, giving an insight into the myriad of issues the Chancellor must address. I am thankful to Strode's for encouraging the Student Union to hold such a successful event which has proven invaluable to the students who attended."

The Chancellor took questions from over 80 students and when asked what he hoped his politically legacy would be he said: “To be brutally honest it will be defined by Brexit but I hope we will be able to look back at the longer term and see how we prepared Britain for the challenge ahead. I think in 10 or 20 years’ time it won’t be Brexit which would have transformed the economy, it will be Artificial Intelligence (AI). Alongside radical innovations in healthcare we are entering a period of extremely fast impact which will far outweigh the impact of Brexit. I hope we will be remembered as the government which made difficult decisions for the future."

Assistant Principal Bernadette Joslin, who supports the Student Union at the College said "This event was a great opportunity for students to see democracy in action and to question the second most powerful person in politics today. I was really impressed by the quality of the discussion and how well Ben chaired the session. The students presented Mr Hammond with a letter and petition about their concerns and have asked for a follow up meeting.’’

The College which has recently become part of the Windsor Forest Colleges Group provides opportunity for young people to study in an academic environment that actively promotes the student voice. The College’s Student Union is just one of the many enrichment activities provided to students to develop as individuals alongside their academic studies.