Prior Park Prep School students have been learning first-hand about one of the core British Values, democracy, by holding a mock election.
CANDIDATE SELECTION: Work started a month ago with the selection of election candidates for each of the five main parties (Conservatives, Liberal Democrat, Labour, Green and UKIP) to ensure the children understood a spectrum of political views.
THE MANIFESTO: The young candidates then prepared their manifestos. Each contained three national and two school policies; a chance to understand the type of policies that are current nationally and to develop policies more pertinent to their daily lives. Interestingly, it was The Prior Park ‘Liberals’ that cottoned on very quickly to the most motivating slogans by seeking support with their pledge for ‘More holiday, Less term time!’
CANVASSING: The pupil candidates practised their public speaking and rallying techniques during an assembly. They presented their policies and held an election debate. In one case a Green Party member was even berated for arriving at school in a diesel car!
VOTING: Today they went to their very own polling booths (in the Sports Hall) to experience for the first time what voting means and how it takes place. Turnout was strong at 98% at the polling station (one child was off sick!).
The voting process was treated seriously and any official returning officer would be impressed. Children queued to vote, their details were checked and verified and it was sweet to see the older pupils explained the process to the younger ones. They explained how to vote, guiding them to mark a cross and select ‘one candidate only’. Pupils entered their own mock polling booths alone, mark their votes and folded their voting card twice before placing it in the ballot box.
It’s a new process for these young voters but they soon understood the rules, such as no lobbying in the polling station, not writing your name on the ballot paper, not showing others completed polling cards and not consulting in the polling booths. One of the young officiators even stepped in as two girls entered one booth saying; “voting is a private matter”
A level of amusement was however added to the serious proceedings when the school’s very own ‘Jeremy Corbyn’ turning up complete with red rosette and beard!
Votes will now be counted ready for the announcement tomorrow.