'The Power of Democracy'
A Year 6 Project
During the build up to the General Election Year 6 embarked on a project where they would learn about the importance of democracy and how the voting system has evolved over the centuries. The class started by discussing the merits of each party manifesto in preparation for the General Election where Year 6 voted for their chosen party in a special voting booths. The final count was in favour of Labour who won with three quarters of the vote due mainly to their pledge about abolishing tuition fees which the class felt very strongly about. The class were highly motivated by the idea of political debate and were eager to learn more.
As part of the project, Year 6 invited their local MP, Steve Double, in to school for a question and answer session. Year 6 asked a series of probing questions based on the party manifestos and Steve fielded all the questions with good grace and humour. They were also keen to find out about Steve's views on a range of topics from education to nuclear weapons to his favourite football team!
Tuition fees were a hot topic of debate along with the importance of local hospitals. Steve dealt sensitively with each key issue and shared with the children how debates are managed in the House of Commons. He explained how busy he is as an MP and outlined a typical day. Steve shared how he felt at being elected and what a responsibility it is to be relied upon by so many.
Refreshingly, Steve mentioned his respect for everyone he works with including opposition MPs. This made the children realise that you should respect people even if you do not agree with them. At the end of the session, in which Steve worked very hard, he congratulated the children on such insightful and topical questions. Steve really enjoyed how motivated the children were and the children learnt that they can make a difference with determination and persistence.
The project culminated with a visit to County Hall in Truro where Year 6 learnt about how local politicians decide on key matters. Mrs May (Chair of the Council), Dick Cole (our local councillor) and Dominic Fairman were kind enough to come along and talk about their roles as councillors and Chair of the Council. Mr Cole, Mr Fairman and Mrs May fielded questions about local matters ranging from transport problems to leisure activities as well as sharing their views on nationally important topics. The children really appreciated Mr Fairman's, Mrs May's and Mr Cole's frank and honest replies as well as their friendly manner with a large group of children.
In the debating chamber the children sat in the same chairs as the councillors and used the microphones to ask questions. They liked the lay-out of the room as it felt like no one was more important than anyone else. The staff at County Hall complemented the children on their behaviour.
Sarah Goodall from County Hall was kind enough to give Year 6 a glimpse of what happens behind the scenes. Mrs May also explained what a Chair of the Council does to keep all the councillors in line!