UKIP leader Nigel Farage stirred up a storm of controversy at a Thanet school when he cited grammar schools as the only way to succeed for able students.
Undeterred by an earlier barracking from demonstrators outside the Walpole Bay Hotel, Cliftonville, he incited furious debate with his comment as a member of a Question Time panel.
Among the 200-strong audience at St George’s Church of England Foundation School, Broadstairs, was a substantial number of students from Ursuline College, Westgate’s voluntary-aided Catholic comprehensive school, and Chatham House grammar school, Ramsgate.
Mr Farage was joined on the panel by Will Scobie, district and county councillor and Labour prospective parliamentary candidate and Conservative district councillor Julie Marson, candidate for the 2014 EU election and member of Broadstairs Town Team.
Other panellists were Green Party Brighton councillor and EU election candidate Alex Phillips and Stephen Cave, team leader minister at the Queens Road Baptist Church.
The panel was chaired by deputy head of school and Year 13 student Remy Delgado.
Year 11 student Natascha Arnold sparked furious debate with her question: “Do you agree that the grammar school system is the best way for every young person to achieve their potential?”
The Question TIme panel, including UKIP leader Nigel Farage, at St George's Church of England Foundation School, Broadstairs
Tatton Spiller, Question Time organiser and lead learner in political literacy, said: “This was the most controversial question with a very split audience, including around 40 students from Chatham and Clarendon Grammar School debating fiercely. St George’s principal Kim Stoner vehemently defended the school’s record after Farage claimed that the only way for the most able to achieve was through grammar schools.
In response to the following question from Year 9’s Kieran Laws, all five panellists claimed they had admitted they were wrong in a public debate.
For full story, see next week's Thanet Extra.