Three Rivers councillors challenged by young people at youth council

Press ReleaseUpdated: 27 June 2023Education and Learning
Three Rivers councillors and 74 pupils are waving in front of a projected screen that reads 'student council forum in partnership with the youth council'

Three Rivers District councillors were challenged by politically minded children from nine schools as part of this year’s youth council event.

Seventy-four children attended the Three Rivers Youth Council at Watersmeet Theatre on Wednesday 21 June to hear from and ask questions to the Chair of the Council Cllr Phil Williams, Youth Champion’s Cllr Jon Tankard, Cllr Ciaran Reed and Cllr Narinder Sian, Lead Member for Leisure Cllr Chris Lloyd, and Green Group Leader Cllr Chris Mitchell.

The councillors briefed the pupils on their roles and how local democracy works. They were asked some strong questions by the children, such as why they wanted to be councillors in the first place.

While the children learned about democracy and how effective debates work, they were also taught how to learn from their failures through making an origami spinner and a tower building exercise.

This involved giving the pupils limited resources in teams to build the tallest tower – with an additional task to think about what they could have done differently or why their tower didn’t work out as planned. They were scored on the height of their tower and their ability to collaborate and work as a team.

Each school also put together displays showing their projects from the year. The children got to present their projects to each other and voted for which one was the best – with Little Green Junior School crowned the winner.

At the end of the event, each school was given some wildflower seeds to take home and plant as well as information about what ward they sit in and who their ward councillors are currently.

Cllr Williams said: “It was amazing to see how engaged these young people are in learning the democratic process and their passion for local issues – especially the environment – is truly inspirational.

“Young people sometimes feel their voices are not heard but they are the next generation and play a crucial role in shaping the future, so it’s crucial we listen to their concerns and be challenged by their expectations of us.

“The pupils asked some tough questions and held us to account very well – these could be the politicians of the future.”

Duncan Roberts, the schools lead for youth council, said: "In times of challenge, the best solution is always to work together to find the best solution possible. The student council forum models this for all of our schools and allows our children to share their brilliant voices and prove their ability to make a positive difference. We ignore them at our own cost and could learn an awful lot from them if we only spent a little more time listening."