On Thursday 10th October, Dean Close hosted a highly engaging and energising ‘Education Question Time’ event, chaired by the BBC’s Jeremy Vine. A knowledgeable audience of pupils, parents and teachers from across Cheltenham posed questions about whether our education system is preparing current pupils for the world of tomorrow.

The event was preceded by a panel of pupils from the nine schools participating in the newly launched Cheltenham Education Partnership. These pupils, while warm in their comments about their own schools, challenged school leaders and politicians to think again about such areas as political education, climate change, financial skills and the provision for the creative and performing arts.

Many of these questions were explored by the expert panel, consisting of former Secretary of State for Education Lord Blunkett, Alex Chalk MP, cyber-security and AI expert Professor Richard Benham, Eleanor Busby, Education Correspondent for the Independent, and Emma Taylor, Warden of the Dean Close Foundation.

The debate was energetic and lively; questions included ‘Should the voting age be lowered to 16?’; ‘Are mobile phones the enemy?’ and ‘How much responsibility for education lies with parents?’ Jeremy Vine chaired the session with verve, challenging the panellists’ views and ending by racing around the auditorium with a microphone eliciting the judgement of the Sixth Formers on the opinions expressed.

The event was the first in the programme of events to be staged as part of the first year of the Cheltenham Education Partnership, and much hope was expressed that pupils in all Cheltenham’s schools would benefit from the strong sense of collaboration and participation which was so evident in the room.