02 OCT 2018

School kids quiz me on poverty, pollution and Brexit

Youngsters at Aycliffe Community Primary School quizzed me on tackling global poverty, protecting the environment – and what Brexit will mean for them. I answered questions in front of a whole school assembly on Thursday, September 27th.

I had been invited to come and speak in a letter from the school's "pupil panel" team. The group of up to 70 youngsters meet for 15 minutes every week to discuss issues that matter to them. On Thursday, youngsters from the panel asked Charlie about the global goals of the United Nations, what the Government is doing to help children in poorer countries – and tackling pollution. I talked about the UN's mission to end poverty and hunger and to give everyone a right to a good education.

I told them how the UK spends £13 billion a year on overseas aid – and between 2011 and 2015, had supported more than 11 million children in schools across the world. That includes helping 430,000 Syrian children get better access to education. Meanwhile, the UK helped more than 60 million people get access to clean water, better sanitation and improved hygiene conditions.

I explained how in my role as MP I have been fighting for more use of clean energy – like solar and tidal power. And I told the children of my battles with ministers for more funding for Dover and Deal's roads – and my campaign to keep lorries out of Aycliffe, which make their parents cross.

Yet I faced even more tricky questions from the children. One pupil asked: "Should we get rid of money in order to stop poverty?"

Another said: "What continent will be in if we leave Europe?"

I was then taken on a tour of the primary by head of school Jacky Cox and prefects Ella, Nirubiga, Isabelle and Naomi, hearing how out of those Year 6 pupils who took the recent SATS tests, 100% achieved the expected standard in maths and 90% in reading and in spelling, punctuation and grammar (SPAG). Ms Cox said the school has been rated "good" and is now moving towards outstanding.

I was hugely impressed by the kind, caring and compassionate pupils at Aycliffe. Their parents and teachers should all be really proud. The 'pupil panel' team put a lot of thought into the questions they asked – and are clearly passionate about helping others. This really is an excellent school. Executive headteacher John Dexter and head of school Jacky Cox and their team deserve great credit for the amazing job they have done.


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Charlie Elphicke

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