The Vandyke Election 2019
Hundreds of Vandyke students registered to vote in the Vandyke Election, proving that our young people are invested in politics.
An initial assembly informed students about the electoral process and our political system in the UK, whilst extolling the virtues of being enfranchised. Students were then asked to register if they wished to be part of the election, modelling the registration process for ‘real’ voters! Only registered students (which amounted to 38% of the school) were then allowed to participate in the hustings, where Mrs Moore, Mrs Monk and Mrs Quinn explained a range of factors which influence voters, introduced the leaders of the political parties (and their local representatives) before presenting the party policies.
We also enjoyed the party political broadcasts from each of the 4 parties standing in our constituency (Conservatives, Labour, Liberal Democrats and the Green Party). Students found these inspiring, amusing, frustrating and informative in equal measure, which provided an excellent opportunity discuss the groups each party were targeting with their campaigns, and why. Students were highly respectful throughout the hustings, and went on to ask excellent questions including ‘How do we know whether they will keep these promises?’ to ‘How do they intend to pay for extra nurses and police officers?’
The following week the students then had the opportunity to vote.
We explained that the result would be determined upon the first past the post system (with each year group representing a ‘seat’, rather than a proportional representation method.) 51% of those registered turned out, and the results were fascinating:
Year 9: Labour Party
Year 10: Conservative Party
Year 11: Conservative Party
Year 12: Green Party
Year 13: Labour Party
Overall, there was no majority in either the first past the post or the proportional representation methods (Conservatives received the highest polling reflecting the local picture with 35% of the votes).
This offered an excellent opportunity to discuss with students the current context and divisions based on policy areas and political leadership. We surmised that the most likely outcome from our ‘Vandyke Election’ would be a coalition, and asked students to speculate about which parties this would be between and whether this would reflect the national result.
Thank you to all the staff who contributed and students who took part – it was a fascinating exercise and we were all impressed with the pertinent questions and intelligent discussions inspired by the election.