Sixth formers represent UK at European Parliament
Six year 12 politics students from Sydenham High School got the chance to take their place in the coveted chamber of the European Parliament recently, as part of the Euroscola initiative.
The Euroscola programme provides a unique opportunity for students from all EU countries to take the seat of an MEP for the day. The Sydenham High girls formed part of the UK delegation and joined 500 students from around the EU in Strasbourg to experience how the Parliament works and debate topics which affect their individual countries.
They won their places in the UK delegation by making a presentation on human trafficking in the EU and leading a mini debate in a hotly contested competition held in Lewisham earlier in the term.
The EU countries represented included Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Denmark, Estonia, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Ireland, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia and Spain as well as the UK.
Every student was able to listen to each other’s presentations through the use of headphones and interpreters, just as if they were an MEP.
The students also took part in an open debate about the future of the EU, the challenges it currently faces – for example, whether the EU should accept new members such as Turkey and the Ukraine – and issues around the single currency.
In the afternoon students participated in six different workshops. Committees were created and participants started drafting their recommendations on the following areas: Renewable Energy & Environment; Freedom of Information and Civic Culture; Fight against Food Waste; Future of Europe; European Elections and Youth Employment. Their proposals were then voted on by the whole assembly vote, using electronic voting.
Sydenham High’s students gained a great deal from the experience as their comments attest:-
“I enjoyed my trip to Strasbourg as I met many new people from all over Europe. I also enjoyed debating in the European Parliament and sharing my views and opinions with students from far and wide. I even got to try and speak a different language whilst I was there. It was an amazing once in a lifetime experience!”
“It was an amazing experience, being in a room with 500 students from all over Europe. I wouldn’t have traded the experience for anything.”
“It was really eye opening in terms of current issues. We think we have problems here but it was heartbreaking to hear people our age talk about the hardships they are going through in places like Greece.”
“I made lots of friends and I left feeling inspired to learn a new language as everyone spoke English plus another language as well as their own.”
They were able to see at first-hand how the European parliament works and the significance of the EU project. They also met a whole variety of students from across the continent and were able to appreciate how fortunate they are.