Education takes centre stage at NUT Q&A session

Wigan NUT secretary Max Atkins and Wigan ATL branch secretary Angela Wells celebrating the creation of a new teaching super-union
Wigan NUT secretary Max Atkins and Wigan ATL branch secretary Angela Wells celebrating the creation of a new teaching super-union

Education issues will take centre stage as candidates seeking votes will be grilled at an event based on popular politics show Question Time.

The National Union of Teachers (NUT) is organising the evening later this month when budding MPs and headteachers will form a panel to take audience questions on the burning issues facing schools and children’s learning.

The night at St Patrick’s House in Scholes is the first time the events have come to Wigan and the NUT is staging similar discussion panels in constituencies across the country.

The night will take a similar format to the iconic BBC current affairs panel programme hosted by David Dimbleby, which recently came to Wigan for a broadcast at the youth zone.

Several candidates have already agreed to take part in the NUT event, although organisers are still trying to get Labour and the Conservatives to sign up, and the union says it is a vital chance to hear first-hand what voters can expect from the parties after June 8.

NUT Wigan secretary Max Atkins said: “The NUT are holding these events up and down the country along the lines of the BBC’s Question Time but specifically focusing on local education issues in the run-up to the election.

“We have invited representatives from parliamentary parties to the meeting so they can be asked directly what they will do to protect our schools from the funding cuts if they get elected and headteachers will be explaining how the cuts are already effecting the borough’s schools.

“Funding, testing, grammar schools and selection by ability, mental health issues and special needs provision will all be key areas under the spotlight.

“It’s an opportunity for local people to ask their candidates what they are going to do and to put their different policies side by side.”

Headteachers Michelle Ridsdale from Parklee Primary in Atherton and Andy McGlown from St Peter’s RC High in Orrell will be on the panel taking questions on the night.

They will be joined by Lib Dem candidate for Makerfield John Skipworth and Wigan’s Green Party candidate Will Patterson is expected to attend. The organisers are still waiting to hear from the two biggest parties about their presence.

Karen Parkin, Wigan NUT’s assistant secretary and chair for the evening, said: “This is an extremely important meeting that will highlight key issues that affect thousands of people across Wigan.

“Too often we see the future in strictly economic terms, while forgetting that the future lies in the development of our young people and their ability to shape the future.

“This is a meeting for parents, grandparents and students, and the Trades Council is fully supportive of this initiative.”

The NUT’s education Question Time-style event is at St Patrick’s Parish Club in Scholes on Thursday May 25 from 7pm. To find out more visit www.facebook.com/WiganNUT/

The Wigan general election candidates are Lisa Nandy (Lab), Alex Williams (Cons), Mark Clayton (Lib Dems), Nathan Ryding (Ukip), Will Patterson (Greens). Yvonne Fovargue (Lab), Adam Carney (Cons), John Skipworth (Lib Dems) and Bob Brierley (Ind) are standing in Makerfield.