News item

Young consumers meet Prime Minister at party conference

A team of clued-up teenagers met the Prime Minister after going head to head with an MP during a quiz at the Labour Party Conference.

Youngsters from St Joseph's College, in Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire, took part in a consumer quiz against a team featuring an MP and other professionals at the conference in Manchester on Sunday (21 September).

St Joseph's College was a national finalist in the Trading Standards Institute's (TSI) Young Consumers of the Year 2008 competition.

The team was selected to take part in the party conference quiz event, which was part of a 'fringe' session on 'Young People and Money Management', organised by Citizens Advice and Experian, the credit reference agency, one of the sponsors of Young Consumers of the Year.

Jessamyn Williams, Natasha Chare, Jordan Scott and Alex Zahorodnyj all aged 15, comfortably beat the team of experts which featured Sarah McCarthy-Fry, MP for Portsmouth North, the Royal Bank of Scotland's Stephen Moir, Sue Moulton of the Personal Finance Education Group (PFEG) and Teresa Perchard, director of social policy at Citizens Advice.

Following their quiz victory, the teenagers had their photo taken with Prime Minister Gordon Brown.

The team also met Lord Neil Kinnock, John Prescott MP, Jim Knight MP, Minister of State for Schools and Learners, Andy Burnham MP, Secretary of State for Culture, Media & Sport, and Robert Flello, MP for Stoke-on-Trent South.

Head teacher Roisin Maguire said: 'The pupils had a wonderful day and were thrilled to meet Gordon Brown. After our team beat the professionals by more than 25 points in the quiz, they then took part in a debate and answered questions from the floor.

'I think everyone was impressed with the knowledge our pupils displayed during these high-level discussions.

'The Young Consumers of the Year competition is a great educational tool and our pupils have gained knowledge and awareness from it which will stay with them for life.'

Two other schools who took part in Young Consumers of the Year 2008 were also selected to participate in 'fringe' sessions at other party conferences.

The national winners of the 2008 competition, Simon Langton Grammar School for Boys in Canterbury, Kent, took part in a quiz at the Liberal Democrat Conference in Bournemouth on September 14. A team of three from Swanshurst School in Billesley, Birmingham, is set to do battle against a team of experts at the Conservative Conference in Birmingham on September 28.

Ron Gainsford, chief executive of TSI, said: 'I am sure the MPs and others attending these sessions will be amazed and impressed at just how much these young people know about their rights and responsibilities when it comes to looking after their money.

'The TSI Young Consumers of the Year competition highlights to students all over the country the importance of being well informed about consumer issues, giving them knowledge and awareness that will stand them in good stead for life.

'Attending the party political conferences will be a wonderful experience for these teenagers, as well as highlighting to political leaders the need to educate and protect young people at a time when managing money becomes ever more complex and fraught with potential pitfalls.'

Notes to Editors

The Young Consumers of the Year competition, which is organised by TSI, involves hundreds of schools from across England, Scotland and Wales. It is designed to educate young people to be aware of their responsibilities as well as their rights, giving them the skills to help make informed decisions when purchasing items on a day-to day basis, as well as helping prepare for life after school.

The competition's sponsors include the Office of Fair Trading, Food Standards Agency, Experian, Argos, Financial Services Authority, British Toy and Hobby Association, Consumer Education Liaison Group and the College of Fellows.

Trading Standards Institute

The Trading Standards Institute has represented the interests of Trading Standards professionals for 120 years. We have a long and proud history of ensuring that the views of our members are well represented at the highest level of government, both nationally and internationally.

Our aim is to promote excellence and enhance the professionalism of our members in support of empowering and informing consumers, encouraging and working with honest businesses, targeting rogue traders and rogue trading practices and contributing to the health, welfare and wellbeing of citizens and communities.

TSI members are engaged in delivering frontline trading standards services in local authorities in response to 2 million consumer and business complaints and enquiries each year. They also support the delivery of new initiatives such as Consumer Direct, providing first point of contact practical consumer advice.

They also work in the business, consumer and central government sectors in promoting and influencing the safety, prosperity and enhancement of individuals and markets with a dependency on effective and professional trading standards contributions and interventions.