Youngsters at a Coton school were treated to a visit by South Derbyshire MP Heather Wheeler when 10-year-olds passionate about politics got to share their aspirations to become the school’s new 'prime minister'.
Coton-in-the-Elms Primary School, in Glebe Close, welcomed the Tory MP for the area to the school on Wednesday, September 20, as four pupils went head to head to vie for the position of prime minister.
Owen Ford, Savannah Afzaal, Keona Hannon and Rosie Robinson, each took to the podium in an assembly to declare their plans for the future of the school. it is the third year the school has run its own parliament.
The brainchild of headteacher Lee Smith, each classroom has its own minister and those in the final year are encouraged to put themselves forward to compete for the position of school prime minister. The position means youngsters can use their voice to make changes at the school.
Mr Smith said the children really enjoy the set-up and by allowing the them to be "active stakeholders" in everything they do at the school, it coaxed the best out of them.
Mr Smith said: "As a school we have to promote British values and when I arrived here as headteacher, I felt passionate about encouraging them to learn about politics. They were really receptive and it went down really well.
"We shape it around our school improvement agenda and the children really get stuck in.
"Parliament is a big thing for the school and so is pupil voice so I am hoping that what they have learned through parliament will stay with them in the future.
"When we refreshed the school logo the students wanted it on the school jumpers so we decided on it in parliament and we also have ministers for collective worship and anti-bullying, where the children are actively involved in monitoring what is going on.
"You want them to grow up having independence and forming their own thoughts and feelings and hope that they will make informed decisions.
"Whatever your politics we should celebrate and actively promote democracy and giving children the chance to express their views is important."
Mr Smith said he was really proud of his pupils who created their own manifestos and read them out in front of the whole school earlier this week, covering what their policies would be if elected to the role
New football goals, extended privilege time and rewards for 100 per cent attendance were some of the popular suggestions included in the manifestos.
Their hard work saw Savannah installed as the new prime minister during Friday’s assembly after her promises of a bring your pet to school day.
She said she was "really pleased and happy" to have been chosen by her classmates.
She said: "I decided to go for prime minister because I thought that I can make a difference and introduce new and exciting experiences for the school. I enjoyed creating my manifesto and I tried to include a lot of other ideas so it would be fair for all the different voters.
"The sort of prime minister I would like to be is a person who listens and co-operates; a person who gives people a chance and a person who shares ideas.
"I am very pleased and happy that I can be prime minister and I think that I can make the school the best that it can be. I would like to say thank you so much for everyone who has voted, it means a lot and I hope I can make big changes."
Mr Wheeler said it was "delightful" to have visited the school and to have seen the children engage in their school parliament elections.
She said: "It is important that young people understand the significance of political participation from an early age, especially when youth turnout at general elections have been traditionally low.
"I was particularly impressed with how articulate the children were and had their fingers on the pulse by putting forward ideas in their manifesto that appealed to the pupils - a lesson I will try and learn."