The Isle of Man Branch of NAHT is striving to put education front and centre in this general election and have been encouraged by the response of candidates to join in and participate in our hustings. Although all of the Ramsey candidates were invited to our hustings to demonstrate their passion and commitment to education, it was ultimately seven of the eight candidates who chose to join us: Alex Allinson, Robert Cowell, Lawrie Hooper, Simon Mann, Luke Parker, Leonard Singer, and Erica Spencer.
I had the honour of chairing this particular event and I was pleased to see a good turnout of candidates with seven of the eight standing in Ramsey agreeing to participate. I began by calling the candidates over to discuss the format for the event and the candidates agreed to speak in alphabetical order rather than draw lots. We also agreed to rotate the order of who answered first on each new question so as to give all candidates a fair chance.
The candidates standing in the Ramsey constituency are: Alex Allinson, Robert Cowell, Lawrie Hooper, Jonathan Kinrade, Simon Mann, Luke Parker, Leonard Singer, and Erica Spencer.
There was a good mix of voters in the audience, including serving headteachers and other NAHT members, parents, constituents, UCM students, and 16 – 18 year old pupils who would be voting for the first time. We were also joined by NAHT Regional Officer Jason Ferraby, and local committee members William Wood, Tracy Willoughby and Suzanne Owens.
After the opening statements from the candidates there was a good range of questions from the floor which covered an interesting variety of topics under the theme of education:
- Consolidated A-level classes across the Island, and the lack of Government transport to facilitate student travel to such classes;
- Financial support for university students and how to encourage them to return to the Isle of Man;
- Funding and accommodation options existing within the Isle of Man, particularly for those studying at UCM;
- How to engage younger voters and first time voters;
- Investment in the education system;
- Untying restrictive links between UCM and Chester University;
- How do candidates propose to make improvements and fund improvements rather than simply identify problems.
The last two question were combined in to one by the questioner, and this garnered a round of applause from the audience.
The candidates set out their stall, and from my perspective, it was heartening to hear that some of the Ramsey candidates had signed up to the #NAHTIOMPledge (some had gone so far as to print it in their manifesto):
The hustings concluded with the candidates being asked to present a brief closing statement. With that, the event finished, and with it the NAHT mini-series of education-focussed hustings came to a close. This time next week, polling stations will be closed and we will be just hours away from knowing who has been voted in to represent the people in the new-look House of Keys.
The Isle of Man Branch of NAHT has organised a series of hustings events focused on education. It is an opportunity for school staff, parents, governors and anyone else interested in the future of education on the island to hear from the candidates. Hustings # 4 in Ramsey was held on Thursday evening (16th September 2021) in the constituency of serving Education Minister Alex Allinson, one of the candidates in the constituency of Ramsey. This was the fourth and final in the mini-series of hustings organised by NAHT IOM. We hope it has helped voters make up their minds ahead of polling day.
The NAHT manifesto for education in the Isle of Man can be seen here ⬇️