BY Peter Diamond | December 14 | comments icon 0 COMMENTS     print icon print


Future citizens put politicians to the test

Local politicians attended a Catholic high school in Galloway diocese to help the young people learn more about citizenship as part of a day focused on the social teachings of the Church.

St Matthew’s Academy in Saltcoats, North Ayrshire, celebrated Catholic education week by hosting an interactive day of workshops and discussions for its S3 pupils.

Jamie Greene MSP (Scottish Conservatives), Ross Greer MSP (Green Party) and Patricia Gibson MP (Scottish National Party) took part in a debate where they were questioned enthusiastically by the young people.

The Labour Party were asked by the school to attend but failed to send a representative.

Patricia Gibson, MP for North Ayrshire and Arran, said: “I was delighted to visit St Matthew’s Academy in Saltcoats to participate in their St Andrew’s Debate 2018 as part of their Catholic Citizenship Day.

“I had the opportunity to debate and discuss the use of foodbanks, mental health, Brexit, Syrian refugees and what inspired me to become politically active, in a hustings with the Scottish Green Party and the Tory Party.”


Pupils’ vote

At the end of the session, a mock election was held with the Tories coming in third place with 27 votes, the Green Party second on 57 and the Scottish National Party (SNP) first with 110 votes.

The event, which has been running for a few years, also saw young people find out more about the school’s partnership with St Peter’s School in Mzuu, Malawai.

Former pupils who had previously visited the African country with St Matthew’s led the workshop and gave personal accounts of their own experiences.

Another workshop focused on the ethical use of plastic and looked at the impact on the environment, taking inspiration from Pope Francis’ encyclical Laudato Si’.

A further workshop on refugees and immigration allowed the children to interact with hard-hitting topics and created a lot of discussion before the afternoon question and answer session.

Reflecting on the day, Kevin Herron, deputy headteacher of St Matthew’s Academy said: “Our Catholic citizenship day is always a tremendous success and the young people just throw themselves into the workshops that we create which pinpoint the Church’s view on things like international aid, the environment and refugees to name but a few.

“Throughout the day the children have opportunities to reflect on what they’ve discussed through quiet moments of prayer and reflection and we set up areas of the RE department and Oratory that allow that to happen.

“The afternoon session is always quite lively with our question and answer session and the politicians are great participants.

“This year we had questions from the pupils on mental health facilities, refugees, foodbanks and Brexit, which caused some friction on the stage.

“But overall the Catholic citizenship day was a tremendous opportunity for the pupils to really engage in what the Church’s social teachings are and how each individual pupil can take action on each topic that was covered.”


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