Students from St Luke's with their teacher in foreground. Students from West Exe in the background with Dr Sarah Cooper
Generations come together to discuss Brexit and the UK’s future in Europe
On Thursday 29 June, an event which brought together retired/semi-retired citizens as well as secondary school aged children, ‘Brexit: A discussion of the UK’s future in Europe’, took place at the University of Exeter in the Innovation Centre.
The aim of this session was to draw together members of The University of the Third Age (U3A) and secondary school aged children from Years 8 and 9 to discuss the practicalities of Brexit and the UK’s relationship with the EU, focusing on the role of the community in British politics and the respective advantages and disadvantages of disbanding the longstanding connection between the domestic and supranational level. The session was led by Dr Sarah Cooper, Lecturer in Politics within the College of Social Sciences and International Studies, in collaboration with the Political Studies Association (PSA).
The schools who participated in this event were St Luke’s Science and Sports College and West Exe School. One student commented that the event “was engaging and very interactive. The mix of ages was interesting.” Another student “enjoyed the conflict and diversity”, while one praised the event, stating: “It strengthened our argumentative and confidence skills and made us learn about things through the perspective of different people.” For some it changed their views on University: "“I was really nervous about going to Uni ... It was fun and interesting to see that very clever people have different views on the same topic” and "I'm thinking that University might be right for me."
Head of Year 8 at St Luke’s, Joe Greenhalgh commented: “The Brexit event was a great opportunity for our students to learn about the European Union and Brexit, as well as helping them to formulate their own opinions and debate different issues involved. I couldn’t quite believe I found myself discussing whether the UK should remain in the single market with a member of my Year 8 class!”
He continued: “The day was also a great chance for the students to get a taster of university life and broaden their horizons. As a school we’d jump at the chance to bring students to similar events in the future.”
Visitors from U3A were unanimously impressed by the students, with one in particular stating that they were “really impressed by [the students’] intelligent, well-argued points” and another by their “knowledge and enthusiasm.” One U3A member praised Dr Sarah Cooper for doing an “excellent job” and another described it as a “wonderful day”: “Every child, I hope, is given such a wonderful, political education supported and underpinned by philosophical thinkers.”
Exeter U3A has almost 500 members and 50 special interest groups. The University of Exeter and Exeter University of the Third Age (U3A) had cemented their partnership by signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in March last year.
Date: 12 September 2017