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Let the Nation Decide

So the general election has come and gone and the new Prime Minister has been voted into office. Nearly one hundred party manifestos representing a whole spectrum of political parties, was whittled down to a shortlist of eight – and on a day of fierce political debate, Jaren’s Vibrant Party galvanised the support required to gain a clear majority. There was no hung parliament, no power broking, no late night negotiations with The Golden Party – just a clear first-past-the-post victory. The level of interest in the election was unprecedented, as shown by the100% turnout at the polls. Democracy was clearly the winner.

If any of you are slightly confused that this contradicts the election result reported in the national press, I should point out that this was the Highgate Primary General Election, brilliantly organised by the school’s Subject Leader for Citizenship, Ollie Parsons.

Election Day at Highgate Primary started in morning assembly, where the shortlisted candidates presented their manifestoes to a whole-school audience. Taking the stage, each of our young politicians impressed us with a level of eloquence that deserted many of our national party leaders. The political battle that followed centred on the important issues of the day; sustainability featured prominently on the political agenda, along with school meals, playtimes, outdoor learning and the promotion of fun. Two single-issue parties performed well at the polls. The Anti Bullying Alliance, led by Immanuel, took a very firm line on bullying and a restorative approach to justice, allowing reformed characters to join The Alliance once they had changed their ways. The No Homework Party, led by Harry, took an early lead in the polls, until the electorate started to question whether the party had the clout to deliver on its election pledge. His policy rather baffled children in Reception, who still love homework, but we know this will change in time.

The library became the school’s polling station, Ollie’s ballot box was dug out from storage in the basement, pupils were given their voting slip and clear instructions on how to vote – and the democratic process was underway. The polls closed at lunchtime when school council members oversaw the count. A 37 minutes turnaround put Sunderland to shame and the result was in. Everyone returned to the hall as the school’s recording officer made her announcement that The Vibrant Party was the clear winner and that Jaren will be forming a government.

Back to the National Election and what was so encouraging was the monumental turnout among voters aged 18 to 24, estimated to be around 72%. So what has changed for our young people to reverse the trend for political apathy? For me, the most plausible answer has to be the decision in 2002 to make Citizenship a compulsory subject within the National Curriculum. Our pupils are very politically aware and it’s wonderful to see. Last Thursday, the quality of debate held at the hustings, in class and around the school, was quite remarkable, to the extent that it’s hard to think that any of our pupils would fail to make use of their right to vote when their time comes.

William