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Last Updated: Thursday, 8 July, 2004, 23:56 GMT 00:56 UK
What you've said: 8 July 2004
Find out what you had to say about Schools Question Time and the topics discussed.

The topics discussed this week were:

The following comments reflect the balance of opinion we have received:

Audience question: Do you think it was the correct decision to allow Yusuf Al-Qaradawi into the country?

You said:

Text: This country will let anybody in. They'll never learn.
Sue, Preston

The panel in general supported letting the Muslim cleric who supports suicide bombers, murdering gays and Jews and wife beating etc into the country, but won't let you smack a misbehaving child. No wonder this country is so ridden with violent crime when the Lunatic Liberals have escaped from the asylum and are running the country.
Paul Stratton, Basingstoke

Text: David Blunkett should stand down for letting him in.
Rob, Ipswich

Why should the UK's authorities be used to track and monitor the actions of individuals whose views are known to be explicitly racist when these people should have been stopped from entering the country in the first place. It is a waste of money.
Davi McCarthy, Manchester

Text: This country is a proud democracy and we are a multi-cultural society. All are welcome to express their beliefs.
Paul, St Annes
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We may well disapprove of the views of the Muslim cleric who is on a temporary visit to Britain, but whether this is sufficient grounds to deport him is another matter.

It is alleged that he is anti-Semitic and supports suicide bombing. Perhaps this is true, perhaps it is a distortion of what he has said. What is more important is whether more damage will be done by allowing him to stay for a short time, or excluding him.

Amongst Muslims he is apparently regarded not as an 'extremist', but as a moderate! Excluding him would cause even greater resentment amongst the Muslim community and far from preventing him from getting his message across, it would reinforce it. It might even drive some Muslims into the arms of the extremists who are already here.
Julius Marstrand, Cheltenham

Text: Fundamentalist Muslims see our tolerance as weakness not a strength.
Sarah, London

Text: Yusuf Al-Qaradawi has come to this country to represent and clarify Islam, but as a Muslim I believe he is a misrepresentation of Islam.
Yasmin, Forest Hill

Audience question: Does the panel believe that the proposed restrictions on smacking will turn many good and loving parents into criminals?

You said:

It strikes me that most of the people who have a strong opinion against the smacking of children don't actually have any themselves. I have one very determined six-year-old and quite often he takes no heed of reasoning. Usually he will be told not to do something at least three times before a smack is used. It is merely used as a last resort. Contrary to common belief, he has not turned into a violent monster as a result and is actually a very affectionate and loving child. Our quality time together more than makes up for the bad days, which are becoming less frequent
G. Fleming, Glasgow

If smacking is justifiable on young children then shouldn't we think of introducing it for MPs? They don't listen, don't seem to understand what you're saying, won't do as they're told. Perhaps if we gave them a good smacking...?
Pete Radcliff, Nottingham

Text: To hit a child is assault. End of story.
Iain, Dundee

Text: There is a difference between beating and smacking!
Adelle, Durham

Worst thing about smacking, apart from the obvious bruising etc, is that it stops the person who smacks from thinking about the proper alternative to smacking. Emotion blocks rational thought.
David McKnight, Reading

Smacking is to parents what armed forces are to governments. Nobody wants to use it, but it has to be available.
Martin Taylor, Retford

On the issue of new smacking legislation, are children best served by imprisoning loving parents who seek to discipline their child by a smack? Never mind police resources wasted, what about the money wasted on social services to take care of kids with loving parents who find themselves in jail because they smacked a naughty child?
Josh, London

Text: How about banning violence against teachers from kids that are unruly.
Susan, Dorset

I'd like to know whether Sarah Teather and Kat (chairman of NUS) have children. I am totally against formal punishment, but smack my children (aged five and under) as they cannot be reasoned with. I would like to suggest that most of the people in the House of Lords who are voting do not have direct parental responsibility for their children, and therefore have little first hand experience.
Bari Farrington, Stockport

Text: Smacking is up to the parents within good reason. Kids need discipline.
Craig, Newcastle

The government is missing the point entirely. Smacking is not the first line of control, but the last. It goes in four stages starting with you ask the child not to do something.
DM Hornby, Middlesbrough

Text: If you hit children - one day in the future they will hit back! Ban it!
Yasar, Birmingham

Text: Parents are being scared by the nanny state. Without constructive chastisement we will raise a nation of yobs.
June, Brighton

Audience question: Both Blair and Howard are promising choice in education in the next election, but who is offering the most choice?

You said:

Choice is another attempt to plaster over a defective education system. Your Labour guest talked about giving choice to people to get the same quality in the private sector. The reason why those schools are better is simple. Smaller class sizes and a higher teacher - student ratio. I am a Canadian teaching in the UK. In a Canadian High School a teacher teaches no more than 90-100 children per week in three class groups. I teach over 360 children in 12 different class groups. Why should I stay here under horrendous working conditions and knowing children do NOT get the education they deserve? Fix the student teacher ratio first! Choice is a fool's errand and a smoke screen!
Andrew Robertson, Luton

Specialist schools are a nonsense to those of us who live in rural areas. What if our child is gifted in music, the local school is a technology college, and the nearest arts specialist school is an hour and a half travel by 3 buses away? I presume the concept makes sense to those who live in London, with several schools in reasonable travelling distance, but it really doesn't to anybody in this area.
Helen Jeffery, Hunwick

The Conservatives new education policy is effectively: "To those who hath shall be given unto," i.e. use taxpayer's money, taken from everyone who pays tax, including the relatively poor, to give it to the better off to subsidise their children's private education. It is, therefore, a form of regressive tax that penalises the less well off in favour of the better off.
Julius Marstrand, Cheltenham

How does specialising schools give lower earners choice? If the local school specialises in modern languages, pupils would have to move to home if they wanted to choose a different specialism.
Steven Blackburn, Portsmouth

Would not any form of choice in the school system lead invariably to some form of selection process being put in place - thus those who need education the most would lose out? I think all schools should be able to provide a good education. Giving all children the widest range of choices when they leave the education system should be the aim.
Dave Malia, Plymouth

Text: Good local schools is what we need, if only to cut down on car usage.
Andy, Worcester

The problem with the contemporary British education system is not a question of 'choice' but of accepting and coping with pupils differing abilities within the same system. Parents want the best for their own children. But perhaps equal access is not the way forward.
Richard Barnett, Norwich

I do not understand the concept of choice with schooling. What parent would choose to send their child to a bad school? It's about raising standards of all schools... Good schooling for all. This choice argument is just headline spin.
Justin Sihera, London

Text: Just give us a decent education.
Sue, Alresford

Educational research shows that those families suggested as being given more choice are the ones that are least likely to access it through lack of knowledge/cultural capital i.e. the working class - therefore choice is merely to keep the middle classes happy
Gill O'Toole, London

It's not just choice, the whole system of education needs restructuring. Comprehensive schools in some areas have failed their pupils and made the job of the teacher almost impossible. It is time to realise that at 14, children should be given a choice of an academic or technical/practical/vocational course in separate schools specialising in these disciplines.
James Mack, Upminster

With a lot of primary schools closing down due to not enough young children to fill them, in years to come will some of the secondary schools close down and where will that leave choice?
Geoff Ireland, Warrington

My daughter, at 11 years has obtained level five in all subjects. She is due to go to High School in September. Our nearest school is three minutes walk away, yet despite wanting to support it, we feel very strongly that its academic achievements are lacking for our daughter's ability. By raising standards in all schools a parent's choice would be simple, the one that's nearest.
Helen Mountford, Stoke on Trent

Audience question: Has the government ever considered that the university fees aren't the problem, the 50% target is?

You said:

If 50% of this country are graduates, who is going to do the artisans' work? What is needed is a mixture of schools, polytechnics and universities. That way we get a population who are employed, satisfied and enabled to carry out their lives in a fulfilled way.
Mike Kennedy, Bristol

There is no need to enforce such a quota, as Boris Johnson quite rightly said. If 50% of people wish to attend university - brilliant, if 75% want to attend - let them. The government should stop trying to govern people's opinions and choices and start governing the country as it was elected to do!
Laura Ashwell, Kent

University degrees are by definition highly academic, and as such are inherently not suitable for the majority of the population. Any academic qualification designed to suit 50% of the population cannot be of any great merit. I feel that an immeasurably better target would be to try to achieve rather more than 50% of the population pursuing alternative higher education, of a less academic and more vocational nature.
Christopher Key, Coventry

Why is it ok to let students pay for their education but not ok for parents to pay for the education of their young children?
Brian Baughan, Northants

Text: Change isn't always a bad thing but why can't they just sort the education system out once and for all?
Rachel, Wilts

The Labour representative on tonight's show says the Labour target for 50% to attend university is realistic because an even higher number attend in Australia. However, the Australian concept of university is entirely different to our own and far less demanding academically
Oliver, London

Text: 50% of students going to uni is a ridiculous idea.
Rich, Bradford

I agree with the sensible suggestion that the 50% target for university applications is a folly. Rather than wasting places on those who are clearly not bright enough to enter university and are likely to drop out, we should be targeting the brightest and most diligent students when selecting those who deserve to enter higher education.

After all, studies suggest that those with a high IQ are more likely to achieve degrees. Therefore those with low abilities should be encouraged to pursue a job which suits them rather than simply waste money on trying to educate them.
John Kitson, Torquay

Text: The tuition fees are disgraceful and I think will discourage people from going to university
Nic Bernstein, Liverpool

Text: You don't need the 50% target. It diminishes the degree.
DD, Kent

Audience question: As 16 year-olds are able to smoke, get married, have sex etc, is it right that the voting age is still 18?

You said:

We have all seen the problems of under age drinking, why give these people the vote?
David, Liphook

From my contact with young people, 16+ pupils, they have very little idea of politics, recent history, matters of general knowledge. For example one 17 year old said to me "What is D-Day?" Should young people like that have the right to decide who will govern us?
A.Lawrence, Marlow

In reply to A Lawrence: I'm sure you'll find a few 18-year-olds (and older people) who don't really know anything about D-Day too. They can still vote though - so where's the point in using that anecdotal lack of knowledge to justify withholding voting rights from 16 and 17 year olds?
J White, Coventry

Text: Let us vote and at least we will show up.
Al, Surrey

Text: They should have a degree to vote.
Pete, Brighton

In all other countries in the EU and most countries in the world the minimum voting age is 18 - only about six have a voting age of 15 or 16 and about 12, 20 - 21. It is not in our interests to lower it to 16.
John Davidson, London

Text: How can 16-year-olds understand politics? They will vote as their parents vote.
Peter, Felixstowe

Text: Voting at 16. Younger politicians. God help us.
Mac, Sheffield

Relating to the voting age, I personally think it should be lowered, but as well as numeracy, literacy and science; current affairs lessons should become part of the national curriculum from the beginning of secondary school. There is no doubt that this would be a useful subject for students to learn.

I also think the age being lowered at which young people can vote would be a good thing for the young generation because in the end it is largely the decisions made now that will affect the current young generation. Young people should have a say in their future and not have it decided for them by politicians several decades older than them.
Jacob Haddad (13), London

Text: Most 16-year-olds don't know what they're voting for. Unlike this audience most young people are apathetic towards politics.
Caroline, Sheffield

Text: Introduce voting by texting. That'll give a just balance between young and old voters.
Ralph, Cambridge

You said:

I really enjoyed hearing from the next generation. No need to worry for the future with such hopeful and aspiring people.
Rose, Shrewsbury

What a great programme with the youngsters, despite the views of the politicians. Have Boris Johnson and the comedian thought of swapping jobs? No malice intended, I think Boris is a spiffing bloke and a breath of fresh air in a dull and deadly serious House of Commons.
Cliff Moffat, Flintshire

Just like to say that Schools Question Time was absolutely brilliant. If only it could be so enthralling every week and Boris, as usual, was an excellent choice of panellist but the bonus of the evening was the fact that the panellists actually answered questions and didn't try to shy away like most of the politicians do. The hour flew past and I am so looking forward to September when this great programme returns.
Gordon Brown, Ayr

I thoroughly enjoyed the programme but was concerned that it didn't truly represent a true cross-section of the 14-25 age group. Everyone seemed to be nicely spoken and I didn't hear a single regional accent. How many young people were present from inner city state schools?
Bhav Lakhani, Manchester

Very encouraging to see such a promising young generation care about what is happening.
Laura Sun, Nottingham

One of the best Question Times I have ever seen. Congratulations to the youngsters involved in it and to the BBC for giving them the chance. More of this type of politics show please.
Donald Junor, Aberdeen

Just to say how much I enjoyed this edition of Question Time. It was refreshing not to hear the usual questions regarding the 'Weapons of Mass Destruction' which have been revisited exhaustively! Well done to the youngsters who have displayed an active interest regarding the politics that govern our country.
Sally Alford

I've just watched one of the best Question Time programmes ever, well done, oh and I'm 54.
Terry Keenan, Bournemouth

A brilliant edition of Question Time. The young people involved should be congratulated. Well done.
Mary Kallagher, Norfolk

Text: Oh no! Not bonkers Boris again!
Billy, Eltham

Can somebody ask Boris a question he knows something about - used to think he was a bumbling idiot, now totally convinced.
Derek, London

Well done to the audience - so articulate and well informed. Great discussion. Boris is absolutely nuts - next Tory leader?
Steve Vear, London

I watched Question Time for the first time on the schools edition and found it very impressive, especially Boris Johnson. However, as it was a young person's edition why wasn't there someone from the UK Youth Parliament. My Member of Youth Parliament, Daniel Hutchinson, would be excellent as a voice for the youth. Get him on next time, I'll definitely watch it then!
Laura Smith, Lowestoft

Please tell me why Boris won't run to be prime minister. Everyone I talk to says he should.
Paul Willis, Cambridge

Just want to say, I'm 55 and I thought that was one of the best question time progs I've seen in ages... largely down to the people in the audience.. really great.
Chris, Farnborough

Why does David Dimbleby refer to male participants in the audience as "the man there," etc and women as "the person there"? This fascinates me - please let me know why he has a difficulty describing women as women!
Eileen, Thirsk

Text: What a bright young audience. Shame about the panel.
Jon, Durham

Tonight's QT was the best I've seen - that's how to get young people into politics - simply invite them. Do it more, get the young people in and make it relevant to them. Congrats on a great show.
Phil Murphy, Manchester

I'm starting to wonder what the merit is of having a 'celebrity' member on the panel. I'm not interested in listening to people who know little about the debate in question and having nothing informed or intelligent to add.
Ellen Cherry Charles, London

Text: At last, a chance for young people's views to be heard by influential people. More young people's Question Time please, and more barmy Boris!

Disclaimer: The BBC will put up as many of your comments as possible but we cannot guarantee that all e-mails will be published. The BBC reserves the right to edit comments that are published.

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