Excitement is building at Sunderland’s Academy 360 which will tonight host BBC One’s flagship political discussion programme Question Time.
Students and staff at the Pennywell school will welcome host David Dimbleby and this week’s panel which includes the culture secretary, Karen Bradley; the Shadow Chancellor, John McDonnell; the SNP’s International Trade Spokesperson, Tasmina Ahmed-Sheikh; the Guardian columnist, Polly Toynbee; and the editor of The Spectator, Fraser Nelson.
An invited studio audience of 150 people will watch the programme live from theatre-style seating in the academy’s main hall, with some having the opportunity to put panellists on the spot with questions from the floor.
The programme from Academy 360 will be broadcast on BBC One at 10.40pm.
Academy 360 principal Rachel Donohue said: “It’s such an exciting opportunity for Academy 360 and for the community to welcome Question Time to our school.
“We were delighted to be asked to stage television’s most respected political programme which puts Academy 360 on a national platform and allows the local community to air their views about the issues that matter to them.
“Our students are really excited about the opportunity to see the programme set take shape in school, see David Dimbleby and the panellists arrive and learn more about how national television works.”
Playing host to Question Time is a milestone for the school in an academic year of achievement.
The Class of 2016 students more than doubled Academy 360’s GCSE pass rate at A* to C grade from 16% to 33%.
Class sizes in Year 11 Maths and English have been condensed to improve learning and boost exam performance.
Ms Donohue has also added two hours of study to the end of the school day on Tuesday.