Pupils at a Beverley primary school are set to go to the polls this week as part of a pilot scheme to introduce children to the electoral process.
On Friday, 6 July children from St John of Beverley RC Primary School will hold a mock election to bring to an end a project run in conjunction with East Riding of Yorkshire Council’s electoral services and the Hull and East Yorkshire Children’s University about democracy and the importance of having the right to vote.
Over the last few weeks, year 6 pupils have set up their own political parties, chosen two candidates, prepared manifestos and run campaigns as well as taking part in a debate in the council chamber at County Hall in Beverley watched over by the chairman of East Riding of Yorkshire Council, Councillor Margaret Chadwick.
On election day, pupils will be involved in all aspects of the election and will take on roles such as presiding officers, poll clerks and counters whilst some children will be journalists reporting the results.
Once the pupils from years three to six have voted and the votes have been counted and verified the declaration will be made by Mrs Debbie Rosenberg, the High Sheriff of the East Riding of Yorkshire.
Councillor Shaun Horton, portfolio holder for council corporate services at East Riding of Yorkshire Council, said: “There has been a lot of apathy from younger voters in recent elections so engaging children in the democratic process from a young age is vital as they are part of the next generation of voters.
“Hopefully this project will help give children an understanding of how elections work and just how important their vote is and it will be rolled out across the East Riding.”
Lisa Whitton, East Riding Manager for Hull and East Yorkshire Children’s University, said: “Working in partnership with East Riding of Yorkshire Council’s electoral team to teach children about local democracy and the importance of registering to vote has been a great way of bringing the subject area to life.
“It has also helped to raise the confidence of the children as they’ve debated their manifestos.
“The children have fully embraced the mock election process in school, campaigning for votes for their parties, the result of which will see the winning party have an audience with the headteacher to look at implementing some of their suggestions within the school environment.”
Angela Nicholl, head teacher at St John of Beverley RC Primary School, said: “This has been a terrific experience for our school, not only for the children in Year 6 but for all of key stage two.
“It has encouraged the children to think about what is important to them and they have taken part in debates, conducted research and worked together to produce arguments to try and win over voters.
“We feel sure that the children have much more understanding of the democratic process whilst having the opportunity to practice and improve many skills.
“We would like to extend our thanks to Lisa Whitton at HEY Children’s University and members of East Riding of Yorkshire Council for facilitating this unique opportunity.”