And no comment on the election from me – not my area of expertise - except to say that, once again, election night television provided some of the most gripping viewing imaginable. The combination of spin and analysis, the wonderful graphics, the tension and emotion at the counts and the spectacle of political heavyweights losing their seats combine to make truly gripping viewing. I would have loved to have spent the whole night watching events unfold but I knew that I would suffer today, so after the exit poll results had been announced I set my alarm for 1:30 a.m. and 5 a.m. and did some strategic sleeping.
The children at school have taken a close interest in the election. I shouldn’t be surprised – when I was only eight years old I was out ‘on the stump’ with my father, who canvassed voters on the doorstep and drove them to the polling station if the pull of television threatened to keep them at home! There was lots of election talk on the coach last week during the Year 5 trip to the Isle of Wight and recent discussions in assemblies have shown that the older children have high levels of political awareness. Interestingly, when I asked what were the most important issues in their minds, the children proposed employment, the economy, the NHS, immigration and Scottish devolution, but not education. Perhaps, I suggested, because they were attending such a good school!
The children gain some practical experience of democracy here at St. Helen’s. In Philosophy for Children the pupils generate their own ‘deep questions’ and then vote to select one of the questions for discussion. Each September, following hustings speeches by all candidates, House and Sports Captains are elected by pupils in Years 4, 5 and 6. Children also elect their own School Councillors. We are very keen to include ‘the pupil voice’ in our decision making, so feedback and ideas from the pupil survey and School Council (which includes pupils as young as three) are carefully considered and often followed up with action.
From time to time we remind the children that they have the potential to be the leaders of the future in whichever occupations they choose to pursue, and encourage them to have high aspirations. Given their confidence, their compassion and their interest in the wider world, I would not be at all surprised if some of our current pupils go on to make their names in politics. Two have already declared their ambition – one to become UK Prime Minister and the other the President of the USA.
Watch this space!