At Prior Park Prep School near Swindon, political debate has been heating up as student representatives from each political party have delivered their manifestos, in advance of their election on Thursday 8 June.
To develop the children’s understanding of politics, teams were set the task of exploring their political party’s policies, before getting on their soap box to rally support. These groups were given the task of preparing their own manifesto in line with their national party, containing three national and two school policies. Posters to promote their party were then produced and posted across the school, with slogans such as 'Vote for a better country and a better school', before each group was called to speak publicly in an assembly debate.
In their speeches many well aligned pledges for their electorate and party were made. Labour promised 79,000 new jobs and separate playgrounds for different year groups. The Greens offered eco homes as well as, more fun in shorter lessons. The Liberal Democrats raised the issue of more funding for social care and more sports matches. Conservative representatives talked of tax incentives for hardworking people, with no Prep on Wednesdays, whilst UKIP argued the case for Brexit producing savings, with changes to sport in the school.
The level of oratory demonstrated in the debate was of a high standard, despite the children being aged just 10-13 years old. Leant over the lectern, sleeves rolled up with one hand raised, Liberal Democrat candidate, Ed, brought the assembly hall to rapturous applause across the age range as he rounded off his speech with the phrase ‘More holiday, less term time!’
Campaigning will continue with the donning of rosettes and further promotion of their policies, as they lead up to the vote in the school polling station on Thursday 8 June.
It is important to ensure that the children understand what is at stake in a general election, particularly at a time where the engagement of the public in key issues such as Brexit is so high. They need to be clear what each of the national parties represents in order that they can make their own decisions about what is right for them. Understanding what their local electorate prioritises, will enable them to understand the power of public opinion. Organising a school election complete with polling stations and ballot boxes will let them glimpse at the process, before the responsibility of voting falls to them. We’re really pleased with how hard the children have worked on this and their high level of engagement.Deputy Headmaster, Mr Vaughan Jelley