In summer 2020, Old Palace School student Sumaiya was chosen to represent Croydon on the London Youth Assembly (LYA) – an organisation hosted by the offices of the Mayor of London and London Assembly that provides representation for young people aged 11-18 from across all of London’s boroughs.

Her fellow youth assembly members quickly chose her as their Chair and she has led the organisation over the past year in focusing on the consequences that Covid has had on education and services for young people in London. This work included constructing and circulating an online survey that received over a thousand responses and formed the basis of a report ‘The impact of COVID-19 on education & opportunities for young people in London.’ To promote the key recommendations and to round off her year as chair, Sumaiya organised a Young Londoner’s Question Time event that took place at City Hall on 31 August, 2021.

The event was introduced by Mayor Sadiq Khan and included a stellar panel of: Labour’s Shadow Secretary of State for Education, Kate Green; Green Party leader and London assembly member, Sian Berry; Conservative Chair of the London Assembly, Andrew Boff; peer outreach worker, Javaun Bance; and author and headteacher, Dr Kulvarn Atwal. The panel discussion covered important questions about how to make education as inclusive, equitable and expert as possible, covering a wide range of topics such as bullying, discrimination, PSHE, curriculum design and the general need for greater funding and training in the education sector.

Sumaiya showed phenomenal confidence and poise as she expertly chaired the two-hour event, keeping panellists to time in their responses while moderating and selecting questions from the youth assembly members, the live audience and those watching the live-stream from home. She even managed to persuade the panel to publicise the LYA’s report and to commit to greater funding for the LYA going forward. Sumaiya deserves huge congratulations on the critical work she has spearheaded over the last year and, in particular, on her performance at the Young Londoner’s Question Time – it can only be a matter of time until we are all
watching her on BBC Question Time!


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