Mock elections and the democratic process
The General Election 2015 was embraced by schools across the region staging their own mock elections in various formats. With polling booths and ballot boxes even installed, many primary and secondary school aged children experienced a real voting process and what it represents. How valuable an opportunity do you think this has been for this generation of school children, at a time when there is widespread opinion that many young people are disengaged with the political system?
Hugh Baird 14-16 College
Hugh Baird 14-16 College ran their own mock election with an 80% turnout! Director of young people and head of 14-16 College, Alun Owen said: “For the past 10 weeks, we’ve been encouraging our students to engage with the democratic process culminating in our mock election on 7 May. Linked to their business and enterprise qualification, they studied the manifestos of all of the main parties. It’s given them the opportunity to really think about and discuss the issues affecting them and how their voice can make a difference. Many of the students have never seen the voting process itself so we also felt it was important to recreate the polling station experience. By the time election day came, they were enthused by the whole process and we intend to keep that enthusiasm alive by promoting similar discussions through their citizenship lessons.
Whitefield Primary School
Although our primary aged children are too young to vote legally in this election, they wanted to feel part of what was happening and they wanted to learn about the process for when they can vote.
As a preparation and exploration of our democratic system, we had a period of research into party manifestos, a live presentation of the issues and a debate. The children then posted their votes in a ballot box, voting for the party of their choice.
The children voted after learning about politics in Britain and about the issues in each manifesto. They were particularly interested in the issues of education, tuition fees and the environment. Infact, the environment was the issue that caused the most exciting debate and exchanges!
“It was good because when we grow up we will want to vote, we can see the point. Also some of us might want to go into politics!” Thomas Whittick, aged 10
“The election in school really got people interested and I think they will be more likely to vote when they are older.” Mikey Forbes, aged 10
Notre Dame Catholic College
From our perspective I think running mock elections gives students several benefits. Firstly it introduces them to basic concept of democracy and how we currently choose our politicians, providing first hand experience of making decisions in an election.
In addition it also introduces students of all ages to the topics and themes that are important to them, our local communities and the country. Encouraging an understanding and helping them form their own opinions.
Finally for our mock ‘politicians’ it gives them great experience to form arguments based upon strong beliefs and gets them to engage in healthy debate and discussion: challenging others and defending their own views.
Above all these factors, however, is the simple fact that they really enjoy them!
Councillor Gary Millar
I welcome projects that helps towards learning about our democratic process and introduces an impartial overview of our mix of parties and policies. Politics affects everything we do in life and these mock elections offers a glimpse into the considerable effort that goes into an election, policies, debating, team work and civic opportunity. Liverpool’s Schools’ Parliament (said to be the UK’s first) has led on debating, election of Junior and Young Lord Mayors and on civic pride and civic responsibility – so it’s not surprising its innovative model has been expanded nationally with the addition of what happens behind the ballot box.