Steyning Grammar School Sixth Form Conference
10th April 2015

The annual Sixth Form Conference was held on Friday 20th March for 270 year twelve students and a small selection of KS4 students.

The conference began with a warm up session for the students, getting them to join in a range of activities designed to encourage them to speak into radio microphones, and to get used to the sound of their own voices in a large venue.

The event was opened by the conference chair Lindsey Thompson, Assistant Headteacher and Director of KS4 who introduced the panel, a diverse group drawn from very different walks of life;  Nick Hopkinson (European Movement UK), John Ashcroft (Quaker), Sara Mohanna (Islam), Jacob Berkson (Philosopher), Julia Begbie and Rev. Andrew Fadoju (Christian Minister).



Conference Begins 

The event, organised by Mark Warwick, has been designed to give students the opportunity to consider current affairs, philosophical, ethical, political and religious issues. 

The first session was very much like the television programme ‘Question Time’  with the chair selecting the best questions from a range previously provided by the students, with the aim of stimulating lively debate.

Student Alex Crane started the debate with his question:  Why is their so much hatred in the world?  This topic really engaged the audience and panel in some thoughtful discussions.

Mark Warwick said:” I have been really pleased that the students wanted to speak right from the start.  Students are developing their own views as they listen to each other and are supporting each others views which is positive and gives great hope for how our students will contribute in the future to the wider society.”

The second question was:  Do you believe complete equality can be reached?  Another challenging question which was answered by panel member Julia Begbie: “In my lifetime the change has been extraordinary, but when I look at your generation I find it inspirational and I wish young people were held in a higher regard.  We are certainly not there; I think we should have equality of opportunity and the ability to get there, although technology is levelling the playing field.”



Student Anastasia Maciver at conference 

The third question was: If our government have tarnished the once great image of democracy (which the last several have done), why do we keep voting for them? New panel member Nick Hopkinson responded saying: “The political scene is changing and there is a greater choice, all I can say is that you should be voting for a fairer future.”  Rev. Andrew Fadoju also said: “Research the parties really well, but it is important that you use your vote.” 

Two students joined the panel this year and gave some interesting and thought provoking answers to the questions they were asked.

Lindsey Thompson commented: “As the Chair of the conference three things were necessary for its success: a good panel, great questions and lively interactions from the students”

And as Nick Hopkinson said: “I have been impressed by the contribution of students, it’s a good opportunity for them to express themselves and broaden their horizons and it is impressive to see them engaging in topical issues.”

In the second session, students were split into discussion groups to consider questions put to them by the panel. Finally, the students returned to the conference to feed back their views to the panel and hear back from the panel on their own questions.

Nick Wergan, Headteacher said: “Our students again showed that they not only have the confidence and curiosity to ask the big questions, but that they also have a shared responsibility to help come up with the answers. “

We think this conference gives students the opportunity to have a discussion about things that really matter.


                Students in discussion groups  

About Steyning Grammar School:

A thriving comprehensive day and boarding school for students ages 11-19 set in the beautiful countryside of the South Downs, with close links to Brighton and the South Coast. The school has an intake in Year 7 and 9 and a successful Sixth Form College, offering both A Levels and the International Baccalaureate. An OfSTED ‘good with outstanding features’, students are extremely keen to learn and this is reflected in good examination results.

Steyning Grammar School has had the proud tradition of boarding provision since 1614. It boasts some of the finest and most modern facilities of any state or private boarding school. Following a three day inspection by Ofsted in October 2012, SGS Boarding was once again judged as 'Outstanding'. Very few schools achieve such a judgement and SGS Boarding is the first Outstanding State Boarding School in the country to achieve this grade under the new inspection framework.  The inspection report reinforces the popularity of Steyning Grammar School as demand from the UK, as well as overseas, continues to rise. The education is free to parents and families with just the very modest boarding costs to cover.

Full details can be found on the school’s website

Steyning Grammar School will be celebrating 400 years of excellence during the academic year 2014, visit our website  for more details or to register your interest in the events. 

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