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Student chosen for Generation 2015 debates

A sixth form political commentator is set to have her voice heard on a national stage when she joins broadcast debates in the run up to the General Election.

Paige Cope, 18, of Coulby Newham, applied and was accepted as a member of BBC Generation 2015, a group of 18 to 24-year-olds from across Britain.

Paige, who is head girl and studying A level politics at The King’s Academy, will travel to Edinburgh for a debate to be broadcast on the Newsbeat radio show and later to Gateshead for a debate with local MPs.

Generation 2015 was put together to address the low turnout of young voters by giving young people from diverse backgrounds the chance to have their say and get involved in politics.

Paige said:

They wanted people from all sorts of backgrounds and, at 18, I’m one of the youngest. When I applied and did some phone interviews they seemed to like the fact that I was still at school in the sixth form.

“It’s a great opportunity if you’re passionate about politics to get involved, to express your views and to developing your questioning of politicians. I’ve already made some really good contacts.”

Paige, who is also studying A levels in Spanish and religious studies, said issues like the minimum wage were of particular interest to her.

“I work in a shoe shop part time and I earn more per hour than my mum who works six days a week as a care assistant, because she only earns minimum wage.

“We need more people who aren’t career politicians, who really understand what it’s like for people working in normal jobs,” she said.

She added that she would consider politics as a future career.

I don’t feel that I’m represented in my constituency at the moment and it is something I would think about, but I’d like to work in another career first so I’ve got more experience that I could bring to the job.”

The King’s Academy has a thriving politics programme and representatives from each of the main parties have visited the school in recent weeks to give presentations to students.

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Final Parliamentary candidate invited by students

STUDENTS were urged to look forward to the most exciting election in a generation as their constituency became a central player in deciding the next government.

Conservative prospective parliamentary candidate Will Goodhand told students from The King’s Academy, Coulby Newham, that fewer than 2,000 votes had separated Labour and Conservative candidates at the last election.

Traditionally Labour heartland, Middlesbrough and East Cleveland could now swing in a number of directions as the political campaign enters its final phase.

Mr Goodhand told students how he had attended a state comprehensive school before studying law at Oxford University.

But I started a business with some other people who didn’t want to be lawyers either, producing a website for the game Magic the Gathering,” he said.

“I learnt a lot about the importance of good marketing and not having fixed costs before the revenue starts coming in. I then went into the market research industry which helped me to develop key skills transferable to politics.”

“There is a concern about so called professional politicians who have done nothing else,” he added. “I feel I have benefited from doing something different outside politics.”

Mr Goodhand explained that he entered politics to enable everyone to reach their full potential, whether that was academic, vocational or creative.

That way they will succeed and the country will become stronger as a result,” he said.

“Our area has so much potential not yet fully tapped. We need to work together, to punch together and work hard for the region.”

Students have invited members of each political party into school as a precursor to staging mock elections.

They questioned Mr Goodhand on a range of issues including the biggest challenges facing the area, whether to leave Europe, the traditional Labour nature of the constituency, voting age and coalitions.

Politics teacher Jenni Yuill said:

It is always interesting to hear party political perspectives at a local level. Once again our students showed a keen awareness of the issues and were able to ask Mr Goodwill some insightful questions.”