Friday Headlines

the weekly newsletter from Dr Ruth Weeks, Headmistress

Ethics Forum Draws Experts for Panel Discussion

11 July 2014


Last week, EHS played host to a panel-based discussion forum on Ethics. Pupils from both EHS and other local schools sat down to grill a panel of esteemed ethical figures in the much anticipated EHS Ethics Forum.

The panel consisted of four local experts, each extremely prominent in their chosen field, including Edgbaston MP Gisela Stuart, BBC producer and EHS Old Girl Liz Cave, Sutton Coldfield MP Andrew Mitchell, David Urquhart, Bishop of Birmingham and the Director of Policy, the human rights organisation Liberty, Isabella Sankey.

Our pupils were joined by invited schools, Solihull School and Tudor Grange Academy. The EHS girls in particular were delighted to see such a vast array of female panellists and, by 11:30 sharp, the questioning was underway. The Forum was chaired by Elizabeth Glinka, best known for her Midlands Today breakfast programme and The Sunday Politics show and with a panel of such authoritative and potentially controversial figures to handle, she did extremely well in the role, encouraging debate and allowing the audience to gain an insight into the minds and opinions of those sat in front of us.

The questions, from both EHS and the invited schools, covered a wide range of ethical issues - provoking debate about the fairness of positive discrimination, the importance of religion and even the suitability of current political leaders. The panellists were all extremely interesting and, as well as debating with one another, made an effort to involve the audience in the issues being discussed. It was fantastic to hear the genuine thoughts of not only those who shape modern day Britain, such as Gisela Stuart and Andrew Mitchell, but those who play roles in the background too, with the Bishop representing a religious denomination, Isabella Sankey striving for personal liberty, and Liz Cave being the broadcaster of the current events in which her fellow panellists are all involved.

With only an hour to fill and a vast amount of interesting questions to answer, the panellists had to be quick on their feet and concise in their answers. Of course, on no issue were the panellists completely in agreement, with each person sharing some unexpected and fascinating justifications of their views. Debates surrounding issues such as Euthanasia were particularly interesting to spectate, with the panellists not only representing the views of their political parties and cultural backgrounds, but explaining how personal experiences and familial events have shaped and changed their views over time.

The morning was a huge success and all members of the audience certainly left the Octagon feeling muchmore inquisitive than they did coming in. It was a privilege not only to hear such influential people speak, but to be involved in their debates too - and we hope this is an event which can make an annual appearance in the school calendar from now on! We'd like to say a huge thank you to Mr Smith, all other staff involved and, in particular, to the wonderful panel of figures who gave up their own time to take part in the event, inspiring us all to think more about the ethical issues around which we as society revolve. Hopefully one day, we as EHS 'Old Girls' could be back at EHS sitting on the stage of panellists just like Liz Cave, representing the brilliant futures EHS prepares every girl to achieve!

Ellen Jones Year 12


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