Last week was a monumental, for both our school and our country. General elections come round very rarely, and while our students are not able to vote currently in any national elections, the importance of being educated on why we vote and who we might vote for is still of utmost importance.
Students started engaging with politics the week prior to the election, they were given the following learning target in crew:
DLT: I can explain the importance of voting and engaging in political issues
Students were asked to digitally rank issues from least to most important, and express why they had chosen certain issues over others. The issues were the environment (which was very popular), mental health, affordable housing, employment and crime. My crew paired up with the Y10s, and it was excellent to hear them make links between all these issues and their interconnectedness.
The following crew sessions, crews were given broad overviews of the four main political parties standing in the general election, and their stances on the issues they’d discussed in previous crew sessions. Crews came together to write up questions for party leaders, if they had the opportunity to ask them about one of their policies or pledges. It was fascinating looking at the key similarities and differences on issues like Brexit.
On the Wednesday before polling day, my Y12 politics students held a hustings where students were able to put the questions they’d been working on in crew to my experts! Each party had prepared a short speech that was in response to my guiding question:
How can political parties bring about positive change for our community (XP East)?
They then welcomed questions from the students. There was lots of interest in the NHS, in environmental policies and pledges, and some great questions about Boris, Jeremy and Brexit. It showed how much students had engaged with the work that had been done in crew and I was delighted to see how passionate and thoughtful the debate was between both my sixth-formers and lower school.
The following day, XP East went to the polls. I collected all ballots in crew and we counted them in the politics session. We treated each crew like a constituency, so the first past the post voting system was used – just like the actual general election. Some members of my crew were still struggling to choose a party on the morning of the election, as all the speakers at the hustings had done so well!
The Green Party won a majority of seats (8) with a 38% of the vote, followed by the Labour Party with 3 seats and 25% of the vote, Lib Dems were close behind on 21% but with no seats due to the electoral system, and finally the Conservative Party won 2 seats despite gaining less votes than the Lib Dems, just 16%.
It’s been a really exciting couple of weeks at XP East, and I hope that although the voting is over and the election is through, that we keep revisiting what is going on in Parliament and how we can engage further with politics after learning how important it is to get your voice heard.