As well as discussing her career, Ms McKinnell, who is MP for Newcastle upon Tyne North, answered questions from students studying AS Level Citizenship Studies and A Level Government and Politics on a range of current topics, including plans for a controversial Mansion Tax and the UK’s ageing population.
Ms McKinnell said: “It’s always great to get the chance to talk to young people to discuss the issues that are important to them. Westminster can sometimes seem a long way away for many people in the North East, so it’s great to be able to listen to their concerns to ensure their voices are heard in Parliament. Young people are usually frank and to the point when discussing their concerns, which is very refreshing.”
Ms McKinnell is the latest local politician to visit Newcastle Sixth Form College, with others including Minister for Skills, Matt Hancock MP, Lord Shipley and Shadow Minister Stella Creasy.
One student that gained a lot from Ms McKinnel’s visit was 17 year old Alix Barraclough, who is from Washington and is studying Politics, Citizenship, Sociology and English Language at A Level. She said: “It was really interesting to see a Member of Parliament at the college rather than just seeing them on the TV. The discussion really gave an insight into the life of an MP and has definitely made me even more interested in politics.”
During her visit, Ms McKinnell was also given a guided tour of the new £22m Newcastle Sixth Form College building as it nears completion in preparation for its opening this September. It will be the first dedicated Sixth Form College in the city, providing a world class learning environment for GCSE, A Level, AS Level and International Baccalaureate students.
Stephen Lambert, who is Citizenship and Politics Lecturer at Newcastle Sixth Form College and a councillor at Newcastle City Council, said: “It’s important that people aged between 16 and 18 engage with their local MPs as well as learn how their local council operates. These visits are all about increasing political awareness amongst young people and ensuring that they know what the political parties stand for. We’re really grateful that Ms McKinnell has found time in her busy schedule to visit our students as this will help to increase their enthusiasm for politics and help them to become more engaged with their own communities.”