PUPILS from a Kidderminster school visited 10 Downing Street and met senior policy makers in a bid to improve understanding of the issues affecting young people.

The 10 teenagers from King Charles I School met civil servants at the Cabinet Office, hosted by former pupil, Tom Watson MP, Minister for Digital Engagement and Civil Service Issues.

They also visited the Houses of Parliament and had a tour of St James’s Palace, courtesy of Jonathan Hellewell, assistant private secretary to the Prince of Wales.

Debbie Hodgetts, organiser of the visit and the school’s year eight co-ordinator, explained the aim of the trip was to open a dialogue between “disengaged” young people and those responsible for policies that had an impact on their lives.

Pupils discussed their experiences of family life, school, getting into trouble, drink and drugs, what help and support they were receiving and how things could be better.

Miss Hodgetts said: “The children need someone to talk to about their life experiences and how to change the cycle of their lives.

“Taking the trip to London inspired them to look beyond Kidderminster. Some of them had never been outside the town before and it broadened their horizons and gave them a greater outlook.

“What we wanted to do was emphasise the support they need and to raise their hopes and aspirations by changing the negative views they have of themselves, which are compounded by how others see them.”

She explained: “Also, the policy makers learned there was a significant gap between policy and provision for young people and that was highlighted by the children’s experiences.”

Pupil, Tom Butler,16, said: “It was a fantastic experience to meet with policy makers and to share our own experiences as to the help and support we are getting, compared to what they think we are getting.

“They took notice and listened and have promised to follow up and help us to access the people we need to.”

The trip followed on from the school visits of ex-pupil and former drug addict, Mark Johnson, author of the autobiography, Wasted, and founder of User Voice, a national organisation run by and for people with experience of disadvantage.

Miss Hodgetts has worked with Mr Johnson to establish a “diverse curriculum” group aimed at addressing the needs of pupils with issues ranging from behavioural problems to under-achievement and poor attendance.