On the 8th June when the country went to the polls the students of The John Fisher School also expressed their views in a mock election. In the lead up to the vote students were shown simplified versions of the manifestos of each of the five main parties. During form time these manifestos were discussed and I have been told that some of the conversations were very lively yet tolerant in nature. This taught the students that, tolerance is integral to British Values and that we can disagree on issues and still work and socialise together.
In addition to the discussions that took place in form time other subjects also contributed students understanding of the election and how democracy works in the UK. In history students were taught about how the franchise increased from 1900 to today and then specifically what women had to do to get political equality and the right to vote. This helped students understand the British Value of democracy through understanding that their vote matters and they have a responsibility. In geography the students were taught about the economic and social effects of immigration on Britain. This helped the students understand the British Value of accepting other people’s beliefs and values within the context of the rule of law. In economics the students discussed the different economic implications of the various manifestos. These were then discussed in groups and the students commented on the economic viability of each. This ties in with the students understanding that their opinions can shape the democratic process.
Five Year 12 students volunteered to represent each of the five main parties in England. This in particular was impressive because some of the students definitely did not support the parties they were representing! Each student made speeches to each of the year groups and this not only helped them develop their public speaking skills but also helped the students in the audience understand the key issues. They also took part in a ‘Question Time’ type of activity with selected Year 10 students. Some questions that arose were ‘Why does Theresa May hate elephants and foxes?’ and ‘Why does Jeremy Corbyn like terrorists?’ This helped encourage a frank discussion that demonstrated tolerance and maturity among the audience and the panel.
After all the hustings were over the students were taken to the polling station to vote. To ensure they could abstain even though voting was compulsory they were instructed to spoil their ballot papers and a number of students did do this. Voting went smoothly and the students were able to disagree both queuing on their way in and waiting for the rest of the class outside in good humour.
I would like to thank the staff for all the support both as form tutors but also for responding to enquiries from students when politics may not be their natural sphere. In particular a massive thank you to Miss Furlong for counting the votes and working out the percentages.