20 June 2016

Sutton students speak up as they lead town’s EU debate

A highly articulate year 12 student from the Arthur Terry School pitted his “spectacular” speaking skills against some of the country’s political heavyweights at a controversial EU referendum debate last week.

Seventeen-year-old Tim Clark was chosen to represent his school and asked to argue the case against Britain’s membership in Europe at the packed Sutton Coldfield Town Hall event. He shared the stage with leader of the UK Independence Party, Nigel Farage, Gisela Stuart MP, chair of the Vote Leave Campaign, Michael Heseltine, former Deputy Prime Minister and Lord Paddy Ashdown, former leader of the Liberal Democrats.

Nigel Farage and Tim Clark, courtesy of the Royal Sutton Coldfield Observer

The politically-savvy student – who is keeping his true views on EU membership to himself – gave a compelling ‘Brexit’ argument, to rapturous applause, after he stepped up to debate the advantages of leaving Europe. Isabella Copplestone from Sutton Grammar School for Girls, argued the case for remaining in Europe.

Tim told the audience:

The people of the United Kingdom now hold within their collective grasp, the rarest of things…the direct democratic power to determine our nation’s future.”

Speaking post event, Tim said:

It went really well! It was very daunting initially, but after that first round of applause I relaxed and became more confident.”

In preparation for the much-anticipated event, the studious sixth former, who is studying three sciences at A-Level, read widely on the topic of Europe and had support from parents and teachers (who were also in the audience).

Arthur Terry School’s government & politics subject Leader, Alexander Zarifeh, said:

Tim was amazing and sounded very much like an accomplished statesman – well done, Tim.”

The event has had an impact on Tim and he has received many positive comments about his debating skills. It also gave him the opportunity to meet some inspirational figures.

Tim said:

It was great to meet all of those well-known and influential people – it’s not often you get to meet a former Deputy Prime Minister. It was an honour to meet the likes of Paddy and Gisela, who gave me some great advice about following a career in politics.”

When asked about meeting Brexit campaigner, Nigel Farage, Tim described the controversial leader as “chatty.” The star student remains ambiguous about whether he really shares the politician’s opinions about leaving the EU.

Headteacher Neil Warner, who attended the lively debate, said:

It was an absolute privilege to be in the audience, seeing our school take part in such a prestigious event. Tim did an outstanding job and spoke with real passion and conviction. It was wonderful to see the youth of Sutton Coldfield contributing to the debate and I would also like to particularly praise to Isabella Copplestone from Sutton Girls, who was excellent too.

At Arthur Terry, we always try to ensure our students are prepared for topical issues, as well as academic excellence. This was a great opportunity for Tim to experience first-hand debating on such an important subject. It was a privilege to be in the company of some widely-regarded political figures. I would like to thank Andrew Mitchell for organising such an entertaining and informative event.”

Following the event, Andrew Mitchell MP, who has written to Tim to thank him for taking part, said:

It has been a subject that has raised many passions but by in large has been an excellent debate all round.”

For further information on the debate please visit the Sutton Coldfield Observer website.