Cutting plastic waste in schools, raising awareness of how to speak out about sexual assault, fighting to keep an acute stroke unit in Thanet, reducing train fairs for over 16s in education, bringing gender equality to PE and creating cycle lanes and bike proficiency course.
These are the campaigns that Citizenship GCSE students at King Ethelbert School in Birchington have been bringing into the public eye.
The school has eight groups of Year 10 students all working on various issues and learning how to research their subjects, contact relevant people and authorities to further their case and gain public support.
The youngsters will be speaking to North Thanet MP Sir Roger Gale next week and have, or are, raising petitions.
Awareness for reporting sexual assault
Seren Gibson and Bonnie Humphreys have been working on a campaign to help victims of sexual assault speak out. They were prompted to take up the cause after reading about a court case where the victim was blamed for wearing a thong.
Seren said: “We want to educate at a young age so people know how to report assault and what facilities are there for them. We have been researching the charities that support victims of sexual assault. We have put posters around the school and interviewed the child protection officer.
“We want to speak to the people in the community about reporting crimes, get information in newspapers and hold sessions with younger pupils.
“We looked at the wider picture for our area and saw conviction rates in Ramsgate were lower than the national average and it seems that sometimes there is not enough evidence.
“So far we have learnt how to do a campaign, how to contact people and write letters and communicate outside of the school.
“We hope the outcome will be that people will know where to go to report these crimes.”
Reducing train fares for teens over 16 in full-time education
Five students have taken on the challenge of trying to get student rail fares lowered. The team have spoken to the Better Transport pressure group, written to the rail minister -without reply -created posters and raised a government petition.
Student Noah Turner said: “We emailed the pressure group and they listed ways we can campaign and the people to contact. We have started a social media campaign and a government petition.
“The train prices are too high and keep increasing. There are people in education who can’t afford the fares, this could mean they have to miss out on education.”
Fellow student Ryan Quinn added: “The train fares for students over 16 are double those of under 16s. At a most important time of their education students should not have to pay double the amount in fares.”
Cycle lane and training
A bid to get a cycle lane along the Canterbury Road in Westgate and Birchington and cycle training sessions has seen students on this campaign trail team up with Ursuline school.
The youngsters have spoken to Kent County Council’s Youth Travel Ambassador Pat Jarman and one of the school governors.
Student Charlie Webb said: “We cycle to school but there are not many places you can ride without either being on the pavement or people in cars being annoyed you are slowing them down if you are on the road.
“We spoke to the school governor and to Ursuline bout cycle training and asking them to support our petition.”
Fellow campaigner Tommy Raggett added: “The outcome we want is a successful training programme and a cycle lane outside the schools on Canterbury Road.”
Gender neutral sports in school
Students Lewis Brearey, Krishna Halai and Oliver Barrett have already had a major success with their campaign by changing the PE curriculum for this September’s incoming Year 7s.
The trio have campaigned for gender equality in PE lessons, specifically making sure boys and girls can choose from the same selection of sports. Currently girls cannot pick football or rugby being given choices of dance or netball. Boys cannot take dance or trampolining.
The team spoke to the school’s head of PE and made a presentation to current Year 7s.
Lewis said: “We set up a questionnaire which we sent to all the students. We asked if they thought girls were disadvantaged. All of them thought it was unfair and that boys get an extra push in sports.
“We spoke to the head of PE and they are changing it for the next year 7s so sports can be done together, they will be able to choose their sport and which group they go in.”
The group is now hoping to spread this to other schools, starting with neighbouring Ursuline and schools in the Coastal Academies Trust.
Reducing plastic waste
Student Trinity Hanzo has been working to reduce the amount of plastic waste in school. She researched the issue of plastic pollution and came up with the idea of having plastic recycling bins in the school.
The bins will take plastic bottles but not sandwich wrappers so Trinity has suggested these are used by youngsters to upcycle in art lessons.
The school already has paper recycling so it would mean new colour coded bins for the plastic.
Trinity said: “I talked to the head teacher to get advice nd ideas and spoke to our Eco Warriors team.”
The teen has researched the prices for recycling collections and the aim is to hold regular fundraisers, such as cake sales, to pay the small weekly fee.
Fighting to keep acute stroke services in Thanet
Charlotte Lloyd, Ella Greely, Saffron Tumber and Kitty Waller have been promoting a petition created by councillor Karen Constantine aimed at persuading the Kent and Medway NHS tokeep an acute stroke unit at Margate’s QEQM Hospital. Currently the health service plan is to create three hyper-acute stroke units with the nearest to Thanet being in Ashford.
A sustained community campaign has taken place and Charlotte and Ella decided it was important to spread awareness of it to fellow students and others in the community who may have been missed.
Ella said: “We have been working with Karen Constantine and have put posters around the school. We also wrote a letter to Roger Gale but he does not support the campaign so we want to ask him questions about.”
Charlotte added: “We are going to try and convince him to change his mind.”
The team have been researching stroke statistics, such as survival rates and the importance of speed in treating sufferers.
Ella said: “We have looked at statistics, costs and how many people will be affected and then have tried to use that information to get people to sign the petition.”