OBV eXpress @ the Hammersmith Academy


The OBV eXpress bus stopped in the London borough of Hammersmith yesterday, spending the day at Hammersmith Academy. Teachers and pupils alike positively welcomed the OBV team and gave us the wonderful opportunity to engage with young citizens.

The morning consisted of students jumping on-and-off the bus, many of them gazing at the bus in sheer curiosity and splendour. We had students as young as 13 express interests in politics! We at the OBV team consider that as a positive sign of engagement from this upcoming generation.

By noon, OBV was presented with the opportunity to engage with 200 6th form students attending Hammersmith Academy through a voter-registration panel for the students consisting of the following Parliamentary candidates for Hammersmith: current Labour MP, Andy Slaughter; Milicent Scott of the Liberal Democrats; Guy Rubin of the Green Party; and Charlie Dewhirst of the Conservatives.

OBV director, Simon Woolley, kicked things off by rallying the students together in a motivational speech regarding the status of young voters and leadership. The students reacted fantastically when one of their peers joined Woolley on the floor after the student indicated he could become a future mayor of London.

The Parliamentary candidates were all given a brief moment to encourage those students who were eligible to register and vote in the upcoming General election. The conversation picked up quickly and fervently once the Q&A session with the students began. This young generation at the Academy proved to be politically engaged, questioning the candidates on issues ranging from the Bedroom tax to the future of the NHS. However, the most prominent issue among the group was education.

All four candidates were questioned on their party’s platforms on education: how did they propose to pay for it? How would the students be affected? Why hadn’t the parties in power not fulfilled their promises from the 2010 election? Why should the student population trust those parties who lied? The debate was lively and all of the candidates were heavily scrutinized, proving the common stereotype wrong. Many of these students demonstrated to be knowledgeable, forthright and most important of all, respectful.

A queue outside of the bus succeeded the panel, with over 50 first-time voters stepping onto the bus and registering to vote online. The candidates were also able to engage with the young constituency as well, allowing for one-on-one conversations with the students.

Our stop at Hammersmith Academy was viewed by all a great success. Sophie Harrowes, Careers, Mentoring and WRL Co-ordinator at the Academy stated:

The enthusiasm and engagement was so palpable, and the way in which the students are still discussing the relative pros and cons of the candidates and the political parties several hours after the talk has finished is quite extraordinary. We couldn’t be more delighted at the effect it’s had.”

We felt the same, Sophie, and wish to thank you, the Principal, Gary Kynaston, and all of the students at the Academy for making our visit welcoming and enjoyable.

Andi Guede