OPINIONS were challenged and beliefs put to the test in an annual conference at Steyning Grammar School.
A panel of speakers representing a cross-section of world views gave students a range of topics to consider in the Beliefs Conference at the Shooting Field site on Friday.
The year-12 students were asked to consider philosophical, ethical, political, religious and atheistic views and were given the chance to put their own questions to the panel.
Christian minister the Rev Andrew Fadoju, who asked the students to consider diversity, said the conference was an excellent opportunity for young people to question their thinking.
“It is always good for the children to be in an environment where they are hearing things that they agree with, as well as things they don’t agree with that make sense,” he said.
“It helps them to make decisions. Young people think they have a point, then put it to the test and find they do not actually believe that. The school providing a safe environment for people to do this is beneficial to young people.
“The danger is you gather people around you who agree with you but actually sometimes you need people with another view to make you think and not be shackled to your views.”
Community youth worker Emma Edwards lead one of the discussion groups.
She said she was impressed with the way the students handled the topics.
“They were very respectful and communicated very intelligently,” she added.
“There was a good question on diversity and good questions followed through on other things. It was really good to see how the idea developed on how thoughts work in reality.
“It has been a really good environment to battle out different opinions with freedom of speech.”
The gathering, which included aroung 250 students aged 16 and 17, was the 16th annual sixth form beliefs conference at the school.
It was organised by Mark Warwick, head of religious education, and chaired by assistant head Lindsey Thompson.
Panel members included David Hitchin from Lewes Quakers, psychotherapist and Buddhist Alistair Appleton, Jake Purches, a Muslim convert from Worthing Mosque, and philosopher Jacob Berkson.