North Oxfordshire Academy got the chance to host the BBC’s popular political debating show Question Time when it came to Banbury.
The show’s filming provided the perfect opportunity for students to learn about the making of a television programme and to witness a political debate first hand. Sixth Formers were even brought in to help with the process and only very minor adjustments had to be made to the school day to accommodate the crews.
A few hours ahead of filming, the well-oiled production team from Mentorn Media, who make the show for the BBC, arrived at the academy and was meticulous in constructing the set, assembling the lighting and arranging the seating. A Level students studying media and music technology met with the team to find out how to build a set and help with the sound and lighting checks. Later, a group of A Level Economics students also had the chance to have their own debate with Question Time’s esteemed host David Dimbleby about mental health support in schools.
In total, the school hosted 150 audience members, alongside the evening’s five high-profile panel members. This included Prisons’ Minister Rory Stewart MP; Chris Leslie MP, former shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer; former Dragon’s Den investor Theo Paphitis; Faiza Shaheen, Director of the think-tank CLASS; and talkRADIO presenter Julia Hartley-Brewer. The students then observed the debate itself, during which the panellists discussed a range of topics including Brexit, the Novichok poisoning scandal and the current prison system.
Sara Billins, Principal of North Oxfordshire Academy, said:
“As part of our commitment to Education with Character, we welcomed this brilliant opportunity to take students’ learning outside of the classroom. It was inspiring to see our young people so excited about a political programme and we are particularly proud of those A Level students who took part in debates and helped set up in preparation for the show.
“I have often maintained that a large school like North Oxfordshire Academy can have a significant, positive impact on the local community and profile-raising events like this are a prime example of this. We look forward to making the most of similar opportunities in the future and continuing to give our students exciting, practical experiences that will help them develop wider skills and interests during their time with us.”