Bring the General Election spirit to your school

A general election can bring all sorts of debate and discussion into our personal lives and staff room chat! But how can we capitalise on this great chance to also teach children about democracy and how it could affect their futures? From primary aged-children right through to further and higher education institutions, there are lots of ways to engage your pupils with the upcoming political landscape.

You could start by discussing the election and the current political parties in the UK and looking at some of the leaflets and manifestos that are available. From here you can go further in detail depending on the age of the children to discuss some of these manifestos and who would most benefit from each, and who would find the changes most difficult. How you discuss these will, of course, need to take into account the age of the children and the demographic of your class in order to ensure a safe environment to discuss these issues at an unbiased level. 

Perhaps you could move on to creating a class political party? What would you stand for? What would your policies be? What might your manifesto include? Which voters would you aim to appeal to? What current issues do you think you could focus on? (Depending on the age of your class you could go in depth into some of the current local and world issues such as wars in different countries and climate change or pension age raises.)

You could then move to some individual action and ask students to come up with their own manifesto to become class president or some other made up or real (within school) position of authority. Ask them to decide what their manifesto could be. 

To take this to the next level you could hold your own school elections. Use our Form Builder on your Greenhouse Schools website to create a contact form which allows students to put themselves forward to stand in the election. You might want to ask them to put forward some ideas or a full manifesto (depending on their age) via the form and you could then create a page of your website dedicated to the manifestos or information. You could choose to make the posts anonymous so that people vote based on policies rather than people. 

You can then use the Form Builder again to create a poll for people to place their votes through for the students they want to be β€œin charge.” This will be a great use of the website for current students to see how democracy works. You could make the pages really detailed to showcase the work you are doing in school around democracy which will also be great to show prospective parents and potentially inspectors to see how you are teaching British Values. 

You may also want to add a page to the website full of links for parents and students (especially if you teach some of voting age) with relevant items such as the Register to Vote gov page, and manifestos or party pages for different local candidates as well as the national party pages. Ensure you are impartial and offer balanced opposing views as per the gov document on Political impartiality in schools. 

You could ask if local people running for election would like to come and do a mini hustings at school to. Just bear in mind the following:β€œ In certain contexts, such as in the run-up to elections, schools should be mindful of the risk and need to take reasonable steps to ensure that pupils are offered a balanced presentation of opposing views.” Political impartiality in schools.

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