On Wednesday 15th June Rossett Students in Years 7-10 took part in a mock EU Referendum, as part of the schools Citizenship Programme. It was led by the Rossett Politics Club, and coordinated by myself, as PSHEE & Citizenship Coordinator.
A week prior to the event, all students had taken part in an ‘Introduction to the EU Referendum’ lesson during PSHCEE, and members of the Rossett Politics Club had spent an additional three weeks of lunchtimes in respective ‘Leave’ and ‘Remain’ teams. During these sessions the teams researched the main arguments for their campaigns, and created their own campaign broadcasts, which can be seen here:
At the start of their PSHCEE lesson on referendum day, the Politics Club students spent time making ballot boxes, preparing their polling stations, and then getting set up and prepared for the live TV broadcast, which was streamed and hosted through Periscope, an online live streaming service.
During this time, the rest of the students in the school were watching the campaign videos made by the students, and the official campaigns. Afterwards they spent some time reflecting on their initial thoughts, before watching a short video which outlines the main arguments for both sides.
The online TV broadcast began half way through the lesson, and all of the forms around school were online and tuned in to the event. The first part of the debate saw both sides answering generic questions from the host, on issues such as the economy, immigration, and national security. The second half of the debate went over to answering questions that teachers and students had tweeted in during the event, which led to engagement from those watching in their form rooms. Whats more, any tweets sent were automatically displayed on the live feed, which also added another layer of discussion to the debate.
Following the live TV debate, students will collected their polling cards from their form tutors, and then made their way to one of the school Polling Stations in order to cast their ballot.
During lunch time, the Politics Club students ran the counting of the votes, and by the end of lunch, an official announcement was made regarding the result, which is a follows:
Leave: 348 (39%)
Remain: 507 (57%)
Spoilt: 38 (4%)
@Westylish and I also made a short 3 minute video of the event, which features a short interview with local MP Andrew Jones, a few photos with narration of the events, and footage from the count / official election announcement. You can see that here:
One of the best ways to engage your students with the political processes of UK democracy is to take them on a trip to Westminster in London to see it all in action. One of the main practical benefits of running this trip is that the Parliamentary Education Service will pay a subsidy towards the travel costs, as long as you visit Parliament as part of it. Having taken students regularly from the North of England, they have always paid half of the travel costs, meaning that a day return on the (increasingly expensive) trains becomes affordable for most families. It means an earlier than normal start and a late return, yet there is much you can pack in to an educational and affordable visit to Westminster, in which we had over 5 hours to spend there.
Our first port of call was Parliament Square, which is an ideal opportunity to get your bearings and bear witness to all the buildings and streets in the surrounding area. Here the students were able to have a look at the statues of important political and historical figures from around the world, and marvel Big Ben and the vastness of the House of Parliament. Furthermore, there were some Class War protestors there, so it was a perfect opportunity to inform students that this is a popular place for protesting, and for them to see that politics doesn’t just take place inside buildings. This was also an ideal opportunity to take in a spot of early lunch as the rest of the day was going to be none stop for the staff and students.
We then took a short walk up Parliament Street to see the entrance to Downing Street, where you can see the entrance from the gated area at the end of the road. We were in luck once again, as there was an impending visit from the President of Egypt to have a security meeting with the Prime Minister following the recent tragedy where a plane full of Russian tourist was shot down whilst flying over Egypt. Gathered on the opposite side of Parliament Street were many Egyptian nationals who were now living in the UK, who were divided into two distinct camps. On one side were supporters of the President, and the other side were opponents, all displaying banners, and chanting their slogans (some of which were quite heated, an on site journalist informed us). The Egyptian state media also pulled up in a transit van, and entered through the security vans right in front of our eyes. The students were excited to see ‘politics in action’, and if it wasn’t for our prior engagement, would have been happy to immerse the tension and wait for the arrival of the President. We then headed back to Parliamet to visit the Supreme Court, who offer a free visit and guided tour to school students. Unfortunately, the court in session had recently ended, so we were unable to see it in action. However, this turns out to be better for the students, as they were able to enter the court, sit in the sets and take part in an interactive learning session ran by one of the court staff. Here, he informed the students on how the court operates and introduced us to some new legal terms and issues that the judges have had to deal with recently, including an in depth discussion of a complex case, where the students regularly got to offer their opinions and vote of their chosen outcome. It was a real eye opening experience that demonstrated the nature of legal work on the UK. Following this, we had a brief tour of the museum area, which featured a range of important documents and interactive exhibitions. The legal aspect of the UK political system is certainly an area that we as a club will be exploring to further our Citizenship knowledge of the UK. From there we took another short walk around the corner to take part in a free educational visit to the Churchill War Rooms, which is part of the Imperial War Museums group. It is situated in the actual underground chambers that were used by the government during World War Two for the purpose of directing the war effort. The rooms are set up in the exact way they were used during the war and in additiona to this there is a purpose built interactive museum about the life of Winston Churchill himself. It’s an impressive set up and given the usual entrance price, a valuable and informative place to visit during a trip to Westminster. It was then time to head down to the Houses of Parliament and the new purpose built Education Centre, situated in Victoria Tower Gardens. The visit started off with a tour, with the party split off into two groups. We visited the lobby between both Houses, and then got to sit in the public gallery of the Commons and the Lords to see them in action, and witness the debates taking place. To round it off we then visited Westminster Hall, and then back to the education centre.
The staff were full of praise for our group they were please to hear that we had our own specialist politics club, and they informed us that this was far from the norm they had experienced with secondary school groups. Furthermore, they were astounded by the political literacy of the students, and couldn’t believe that they knew the answers to most of the questions they asked. Back at the Education Centre, the students took part in an interactive session titled ‘People’s Power’, which started off by looking at some of the protest tactics used by the Suffragettes in their struggle for votes for women. There was a competition element involved, where there was a quick fire quiz in between each section. This then led to students being put into groups and deciding on issues that they would like to campaign for, which ranged from issues such as Trident, and racism in schools. The teams then got to decide which tactics they would use to gather public support for their campaign, and the staff were impressed by one groups’ suggestion of a ‘Twitterstorm’. The students then got to vote on which campaign was the best.
The final part of the session was a visit from the schools’ local MP, Andrew Jones, who spoke to students, telling them more about his life, political views, and his work as an MP. Students then used the opportunity to ask him some searching questions on a number of political issues. This was a great way to round off the session, before we had to head back to Kings Cross in order to get our train back to Harrogate. The students were buzzing from this experience, and a number of their testimonies have been posted below. For any school that is thinking about developing political literacy, this is a perfect opportunity and a fantastic educational visit to run.
The trip offered a unique insight into how our country is run. Despite our political beliefs we all found our new opinions and increased our passion. (JP)
The trip was a great learning experience and I am very thankful for being allowed to have such an opportunity. I loved the Parliament visit the most but the whole trip was very enjoyable. I learnt a lot of facts such as, the seven trials that have been held in the Parliament Hall and that Charles the 1st is the only monarch to be executed in the hall and many more interesting facts. This just shows that every Friday lunch, Rossett Politics club is the place to be. (SG)
Yesterday it was the politics club trip to London. It was really cool to see two protests about the Egyptian president coming to the UK. My favourite part was definitely going around the House of Commons and seeing how it works. (KR)
I really enjoyed this trip, as it gave me a unique opportunity to explore my passion for politics/citizenship in great detail. I feel very fortunate to have been given this experience. (Though Churchill was a Conservative!), I think we really owe a lot to him, and I am in admiration of the courage he had. I took particular interest in looking at his past school reports and letters to his wife in the museum. Being able to spend time with peers at the same maturity level, and share the same interests as me was probably the highlight. I can’t wait to do something like this again soon, – my first time in London was great! (YB)
A diary of the events taking place at Rossett School Politics club, which will be updated on a weekly basis…
11/09/15 – In order to replicate the House of Commons, students decided that from now on they will congregate on either side of the classroom to demonstrate their political persuasion. For the benefit of the new Year 7 students, we took part in an icebreaker activity to introduce ourselves and declare our political interests. As speaker of the house, Mr Blackburn declared his impartiality and his commitment to give fair representation to the students’ beliefs. A topical debate took place on the ‘refugee crisis’ and a large majority of students commended the government on the action it had already taken, and voted in favour of the government taking in more refugees into the country.
18/09/15 – Mr Blackburn kicked off proceedings by explaining the different ways that Labour & Conservative elect their leader, relating it to the recent election of Jeremy Corbyn for Labour. The students on the left and right of the house expressed a desire to elect leaders for the left and right. JW honourably stood against YB even though he wanted her as leader, in order for those on the left to take part in a leadership election process. YB was elected leader of the left with a a large majority. Two candidates from the mock general election stood for leader of the right, JP (conservative) and OA (liberal democrat). After several rounds of voting, the candidates were still tied when the bell called for the close of parliament. This has left everyone wondering, will the party manage to unite behind one leader? Or will OA lead the more moderate members of the right into the centre ground of politics club, which has now been left open due to Labour’s push to the left? Stay tuned to find out next week.
25/09/15 – The session began with the leadership process of the right. Neither candidate was willing to start a new party, so a fresh vote was held, and OA (the moderate candidate) was elected leader. Records were set for attendance in the House, as we welcomed new members across all year groups. It’s great to see politics becoming popular at Rossett. Mr Blackburn gave a talk on the role of trade unions in society, and linked this into the governments recent Trade Union Bill. JP gave a talk on the revelations about David Cameron in Lord Ashcrofts new book. JW was deputising as leader of the left, as YW was taking time out for religious observance, and he was rebuked for making personal comments about the Prime Minister. JW then gave a talk on Labour education policy, and proposed that the government spend more money on specialist schools, in order to help out those most in need. This then led to a heated open debate on education in the UK.
02/10/15 – Much of this weeks proceedings was taken up with discussion of the upcoming school trip to London, and the Houses of Parliament. This is because students were given letters about it. It’s a full day trip, there and back on the train, and within the Westminster area, students will be visiting the Houses of Parliament, The Supreme Court, The Churchill War Rooms, and Downing Street – all free of charge. Practically it is great, because as long as the parliament part of the trip is booked through the Parliamentary Education Service, they provide you with a subsidy towards travel costs, making it an affordable trip. Due to the popularity of the trip we have had to impose a strict criteria of a) having taken part in the mock election and/or b) regular attendance at politics club. Any school that takes political literacy seriously, should have this trip as part of their calendar.
Back in politics club, two year 7 students came to see me and said “thanks for letting us come last week but we really didn’t get what you were all talking about” – perhaps this is something we collectively need to address when it comes to new members – perhaps some kind of crash course / beginners guide to politics? On the flip side we were also joined by two new Year 11 students and one new Year 10 student. We had a short discussion on the European Union, and I stated that as a school we will be doing a whole school project on it when we have a referendum on membership in 2016/17. In anticipation of that, I told students that next week they must plan for an open debate on the EU in order to help them make an informed choice on whether they would like to be part of the YES or NO campaign in the run up to the referendum. Interestingly, this was the first time the benches on the left had more occupants than those on the right. Is momentum changing?
09/10/15 – Today saw another packed house, with all the recent newcomers returning to the benches. The deputy leader of the house started proceedings by wishing Prime Minster David Cameron a happy birthday. The deputy leader of the opposition then told the Prime Minister that he had bought him a Pork Pie for his birthday. This of course brought on laughter from the floor, and replicated behaviour we have come to expect from our elected representatives during Prime Ministers Question Time. Mr Blackburn then explained the purpose of ‘Conference Season’, and the deputy leaders then gave a brief outline of what policies had been outlined at the recent party conferences. The main part of the session was then passed over to the open debate on whether the UK should remain part of the European Union. When it was time to be serious, members of the house showed ultimate respect to their colleagues by respectfully listening to each other speak, and providing appropriate retort to points they disagreed on. What was most impressive about the comments was the depth of knowledge shown for issues to do with economy immigration, and the history of countries isolating themselves from the world. There were numerous rounds of applause for colleagues who brought convincing arguments to the table, and it was joyous to see the students conduct themselves with such professionalism. At the end of the debate, we replicated Parliamentary procedure by making members cast their votes by walking into different chambers. 80% of students voted in favour of the U.K. remaining in the European Union, with 20% abstaining from the vote. Following the impressive performance from the deputy leader, there is a strong chance for another leadership election on the right of the house, and from next week onwards we shall no longer be allowing the representatives of the ruling party nationally to lead the house. This will be given to the side of the house which has most members sat in it.
16/10/15 – Mr Blackburn started off by reading the poem ‘A new dream of politics’ by Ben Okri. Leader of the left, YB, introduced a PowerPoint she had made in her own time, titled ‘the importance of politics in education’. This received a loud ovation from the house, and a flurry of positive comments, even from the leader of the right. There was a general consensus that this was valuable for staff and students and should be shown in tutor time to all groups across the school. We were then joined by Mr Halliwell at the invitation of JP. He is a new member of staff at Rossett, and has a degree in French & Politics, which makes him an ideal member for the club. I hope starts to make a regular appearance, as he made a strong first impression on the group. JP started of the discussions about the Fiscal Charter, and Mr Halliwell broke this down into simpler terms for students to understand. A lively discussion took place on the topic, and the open debate concluded with a vote that was split down the middle between members, with 13 votes for either side and 2 abstentions.
23/10/15 – JP gave a brilliant presentation on the differences between authoritarianism and totailitarianism, giving historical and contemporary examples on the different types of political systems. Mr Blackburn then led a Q&A on the upcoming trip to the Houses of Parliament.
06/11/15 – We started the session with a reflection on our trip to Westminster and the Houses of Parliament. JP and Mr Blackburn then gave a talk on ‘Youth Wings’ of Political Parties and showing the relevant website links from the main political parties. Following the trip, some of the students have become more enthusiastic about getting more involved in politics, and these are ideal ways for young people to get active. We welcomed two new members, and we had debate about the Armed Forces and Trident. All students recognised the need for the UK to have an armed forces, and in the vote to finish the session the House voted in favour of Britain getting rid of their nuclear weapons.
20/11/15 – Mr Blackburn had emailed all the staff, asking if they would like to volunteer there time to come and speak to the Politics Club about their political interests, whether it is Parties, Politicians, or Single Issue Activism. We had some volunteers immediately, so this week Mr McPhillimy came to talk about his favourite politician, Shirley Williams. He recalled a story about how she came to his Politics Club back in 1974, and how they were having the same discussions back then as we are now on European Integration. Furthermore’ he apologised to her for being too busy with teaching to vote for her back in 1979, in an election she subsequently lost. The 30 or so students in attendance respectfully gave him a round of applause, to say thank you for sharing his memories of her. Mr Blackburn then explained the difference between First Past the Post and Proportional Representation, as an electoral system, and showed what the results of this years election would have been if it was under PR. They then completed a Maths based activity to show how the same set of results can lead to the formation of different types of governments under different systems – https://www.tes.com/teaching-resource/first-past-the-post-vs-proportional-representation-6091209 This made a change to the usual discussion based format.
27/11/15 – Mr Blackburn started the session off by discussing smaller political parties in the UK system, and explaining how e deposit system works for those wanting to stand as a candidate in an election. KR then led a session about the ‘Cannabis is safer than Alcohol’ party, explaining their policies to the students. He drew on a wealth of knowledge from research done by the Police, and gave some astute analysis on the potential effects of announcing a legalisation of Marijuana policy. He then led a long debate and discussion with students from the floor, who at the end of the debate voted 10-8 in favour of the U.K. Government taking steps to legalise marijuana.
04/12/15 – Former US resident Blace started off the session by giving a run down of how the US political system works, and then he took a number of questions from the students. We then had a long, tense, and emotional debate on the Syrian question, and whether the UK was right to sanction air strikes. A number of students changed their mind after listening to other arguments, and at the final vote those against air strikes won 11-10 with 3 abstentions.Mr Blackburn then closed proceedings by informing the students that their local MP, Andrew Jones, has been booked to visit the school, and that as part of the visit he will be attending Politics Club take part in a specific session with them.They are very much looking forward to this unique opportunity.
11/12/2015 – End of year reflection.
08/01/2016 – Discussion of the upcoming Pilot Scheme to be rolled out in school, which is based on split lunches. This will have a big effect on many extra curricular lunchtime clubs, including ours, as key stage 3 will have separate lunches to ks4.
15/01/2016 – Discussion on House of Lords reform, Direct Action, and recent political stories.
With the General Election fast approaching, I took it upon myself to lead the way in setting up a Mock Election at school, aptly coining the phrase ‘Rossett School Mock Election Co-ordinator 2015’.
It was decided by the schools leadership that participation in the campaigning events will be open to Years 7-10 (due to upcoming exams for Years 11-13), and that the whole school will take part in the voting process.
One of the main preliminary issues was whether to keep it to the main 3 political parties, or widen the field to include others. Widening the field certainly felt like the right thing to do, as this was representative of what was taking place nationally. However, this begged the question, should UKIP be allowed a candidate?
There are many arguments to say that they shouldn’t; members and candidates being involved in racist incidents, the nature of their politics threatening community cohesion, and giving a platform to views that are contradictory to British values that we, as teachers are expected to promote as part of our working standards. In many ways, they have come to represent the acceptable views of the far right.
However, there were counter arguments to the debate; by having them present it will be more representative of the national picture, and by having them there, students can educate and criticise each other on their views, rather than keeping them hidden.
Many schools chose to ban UKIP from their elections, whilst some widened their fields to include fringe parties such as, the Alliance for Green Socialism, and Socialist Labour Party. There was no need for an SNP or Plaid Cymru representatives as they wouldn’t have stood in an English seat. After some deliberation, we decided to go with the main five parties: Conservative, Labour, Liberal Democrats, Green, UKIP.
As a school we felt it was imperative to run our election as part of the Hansard Society’s national campaign, as their aim is to strengthen parliamentary democracy and encourage greater public involvement in politics.We felt it necessary that Rossett School should contribute to the national picture of voting among school students. With that in mind, it was 14 school days until their results deadline of May 1st.
After getting the program of events sorted and approved, I had until the end of the week to recruit some students to take part. A quick email round to Form Tutors and some posters sent to the Year Team staff, helped get the word around. By the Friday, I held a ‘selection process’ to determine the candidates. This obviously set the tone for how the week would be structured. Having started at Rossett at the beginning of the year I wasn’t sure how much interest there would be, however, there were plenty of volunteers. I wanted as many to be involved as possible, so I decided to have everyone who turned up involved, and this led to 2-4 students across Key Stage 3, representing each political party.
I had provided each candidate with a ‘to-do’ list as part of their ‘training’ in which they had to complete over the weekend and by the end of the following week. We held a daily lunchtime meeting that all candidates attended, so they could check-in with their progress, and get any help and guidance required. The candidates had to produce: a 2 minute party political broadcast video, a speech to give in assemblies, a set of policy notes to use in Question Time events, a PowerPoint to be shown to students on election day, and to gather resources from local political candidates to help promote the campaign.
Naturally, a few students sent in emails over the weekend to drop out, yet there was still enough candidates to carry on the show. Throughout the week, we saw excellent attendance from the candidates at the lunchtime sessions. One of my overriding memories from that week, was seeing students having mature phone conversations with local candidates / representatives of the parties, and making arrangements to meet up with them in their own time. Thanks at this stage must be given to Andrew Jones of the Conservatives for sending lots of posters, balloons, and stickers; Helen Flynn from the Liberal Democrats for meeting our candidate, briefing him on policy, and providing resources; Jan Williams from Labour for meeting and conversing with our candidate, and David Simister from UKIP for providing resources.
The majority of students were ahead of schedule with getting their resources together, so they spent the remainder of the lunchtimes towards the back-end of the week, going out and campaigning, speaking to students and canvassing for their votes. Their motivation, belief and enthusiasm or the role was incredible. By Friday, a whole staff email and a word in briefing, was enough to prepare the school for what was billed as ‘Rossett School Mock Election Week’.
The first thing to go out was the compilation video of party political broadcasts that the students had made. I had collaborated with the technical whizz in our department, Mr West, aka @Westylish , who taught me how to use Imovie, and helped edit some of the videos. This video was shown during Form Time, to introduce the candidates and political parties to the whole school. You can take a look at it here:
At break & lunchtimes on Monday and Tuesday the candidates spent more time canvassing the electorate, and at Form Time on Tuesday, all groups were shown a short 8 minute video from Parliament.uk which explains how the real General Election works. During Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday lunchtimes we ran a ‘Question Time’ style event for Years 7-9, which I chaired. Attendances ranged from 15, up to 40, and the audiences were given the opportunity to ask questions to the candidates, in which they passionately responded to, and by the end of the week, were rattling policies straight from their heads, without relying on their prepared notes. There were many heated moments, and such is the case with politicians, they started to mock each other, and began to criticise parties directly. This was certainly an accurate representation of how the real Question Time works.
During Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday, the candidates went to speak in the year group assemblies. Ordinarily this would be quite an onerous task for young people, however, it didn’t faze any of them, having to speak in front of 200-300 people. We had some practical difficulties in giving all candidates the opportunity to speak due to limited time, yet by the final assembly candidates had managed to streamline their speeches to a suitable length. The Year 7 Green candidate spoke with lots of confidence, and the Year 9 Conservative candidate was exceedingly brash with his criticisms of other parties. The best speech was written by the UKIP candidate, who claims that all you need to do is “trawl Twitter for appropriate jokes, and throw some shapes at other parties”. Wise words. The highlight of her speech was this excerpt:
“Now, in an attempt to match the ferocity of the Milifandom, the Tories have created the Cameronettes.The founder claims to be a thirteen year old girl, but it has since been found out that it was in fact a middle-aged man… I think it was Michael Green” – What a great political dig at Grant Shapps.
To push the activities beyond Key Stage 3, the Sixth Form team organised a one-off lesson during PSHE, where teams of students were involved in an activity whereby they researched the main policies of the parties, and this was a way that would help them make an informed choice, especially as many of them will have voted for the first time. The Sixth Form team also ran a mini session about ‘registering to vote’, and took the students through the process of what they need to do. As a coordinator working with a large body of staff and students, it’s difficult and important not to be in full control, and it was imperative that I was able to trust fellow professionals to contribute and come up with their own ideas for the ‘Mock Election Week’.
In addition to this, Miss Birkett of the ICT department also delivered a one-off lesson about “Which political party is right for you?” Students were given the opportunity at the start of the lesson to write down and explain who they would vote for. The main activity saw them completing one of the many online in-depth quizzes, where students have to choose how far they agree or disagree with certain political ideas and policies, and upon completion it tells them which political party most represents their beliefs. At the end of the lesson, the students are able to revisit their original choices, and it was noted that many of the students received a different political party than what they chose at the start. This was a fantastic contribution to the weeks events, particularly as it helps remove any parental and peer group influence in the decision-making process, and it allowed the students a full hour on their own, thinking about key political issues, and allowing them to come to their own conclusions about their political beliefs.
In an ideal world, we would have preferred to set up polling booths with ballot boxes and voting slips, in order for the students to get a mirrored experience. However, with nearly 1500 students and 150 staff this would have been a logistical nightmare. So as a school that has been at the forefront of embracing new technologies, we decided to implement and trial a system of e-voting where students would use their iPads to vote. This was set up using Surveymonkey, with two simple questions. Which year group are you in? And Which political party are you voting for? I had to resist including an option called ‘None of the above’, which some countries around the world do adopt. Furthermore, as there were more candidates than others for different political parties, we decided to treat the school as one constituency, and declare the party with the most votes the winner. Again, it was a matter of doing the best we could in the time we had. Thankfully there was an option on Surveymonkey so that students could only vote once from their iPad, as this could have left the system open for abuse.
We chose Friday 1st May as the day for the Mock Election, as this was the deadline for submitting the results to the Hansard Society.. During Form Time, each group was shown a short PowerPoint, which had a slide from each party (created by the candidates) that summarised their beliefs. Students were then asked to click on a Surveymonkey link in their school emails, and then complete their vote. There was a real buzz around the school during the break that followed, many students were asking each other who they voted for, and were discussing political issues. Over the course of the week, I received many positive comments from staff and students about the event, and this was a good indicator of the success of the Mock Election.
Fortunately, I had some free time during Period 4 and I was able to analyse the results in preparation for the announcement. The main thing I had to check was whether the Key Stage 3 results were similar to the overall school picture. Thankfully they were, otherwise I would have had to announce the Key Stage 3 data as the final result, as that was the key area that the candidates were campaigning with.
Once again, I had two key supporters of the Mock Election at hand for the results announcement; Mr West in his role as the reporter, and Mr Roberts, a Learning Manager who was responsible for doing the Mock Election display and who also did some election work in his lessons, who did the filming. There was a large attendance of students in the school foyer, and we were also joined by the members of the Leadership Team, The Headteacher, and the Head Boy. What follows is a video of the event, which I suggest is worth watching before I give some analysis.
There are some key phrases to take away from that video, which indicate the impact of the event.
Head Boy: “This is a great opportunity for young people to get involved in politics, even at an age when they can’t legally vote.The best thing here is that there is proof that young people are interested in a subject, which they are so often accused of being apathetic towards.”
Liberal Democrat Candidate: “When I first came in I wanted to be Conservative, yet now that I know more about Lid Dem, I know that when I am older I would vote Lib Dem instead”.
Labour Candidate: “Now that I know all the policies, I know that when I am older, I will be voting Labour all the way, and even though Harrogate is a Conservative area, I know Labour is more important”.
Overall, the whole school results were as follows (comparisons to real results in the Harrogate & Knaresborough Ward 2015 given in brackets, and comparisons to national vote share given in bold):
Liberal Democrats – 192 Votes, 17.7% share (-4.4%) +9.8%
Labour – 153 Votes, 14.1% share (+4%) -16.3%
Green 100 Votes, 9.2% share (+4.8%) +5.4%
Unlike the national picture, the results of the Mock Election at Rossett, would have led to another to another Conservative /Liberal Democrat coalition, in order for there to be a majority government. Other useful statistics / trends have also been identified for analysing the results:
The amount of students voting per year group decreased as it moves up the school.
In Year 7, The Conservatives romped to victory with quadruple as many votes as the nearest other party.
In Year 8, The Labour Party came in 2nd place with 23.8% of the vote. This was a great success for the Labour candidates, as they were both Year 8 students.
In Year 9, The Liberal Democrats came in 2nd place with 25.4% of the vote. This was a success for the Liberal Democrats, as they were both Year 9 students.
In Years 10 & 11, the Year Groups where there were no directed activities, although the Conservatives won, the other parties were much closer and were all within a few votes of each other.
In Year 12, the Liberal Democrats were the winning party.
In Year 13, there was two votes between Labour and Conservatives who were the winners.
Overall, the results are somewhat similar to the national picture – Conservative win, UKIP gain, Green gain, Labour not doing as well as expected, and Liberal Democrats with a large decrease.
Since the election, we have submitted our results to the Hansard Society, have had lots of retweets / coverage on Twitter and have had an article on the Harrogate Informer website. Furthermore, I decided to do something I have always wanted to do in schools, and set up a Politics enrichment club on a Friday lunchtime, in order to ride the wave of success of the Mock Election. We have had two meetings since the election where we have discussed a range of topics, such as, how does government work, the role of the cabinet, elections for new party leaders, and the issue of devolution. We have seen the number of attendees go from 12 to 20 in those weeks, so hopefully we can maintain this level of interest and develop the club with a wider range of activities in the future.
Naturally I rewarded all students with a large amount of merits, a round of applause in assembly, and a positive postcard home. Yet the ultimate reward will be, taking them down to Westminster for a school tour of the Houses of Parliament and workshop, in order for them to experience the real thing first hand. Onward and upwards.