Magdalen College School, Brackley, recently played host to a number of local parliamentary hopefuls as part of a Year 13 Extended Learning Day. The purpose of the day was to provide the students, many of whom will be eligible to vote, with the opportunity to meet and engage with their local candidates. Students had the chance to work and argue with Brendan Glynane, the local Councillor for Delapre; Angela Leadsom, Conservative Party prospective parliamentary candidate; Matthew May, Labour Party prospective parliamentary candidate and Paul Boskett, the Elections Outreach Officer for the UK Youth Parliament.
The day started with the potential MP’s introducing themselves before the students staged their own ‘Question Time’ in groups, debating with and questioning the guests. Students then had the opportunity to discuss and prepare their arguments about whether the voting age should be lowered to sixteen.
The day culminated in a mock parliament in which, the Chapel at St. Johns was turned into Magdalen’s very own House of Commons. The visiting speakers headed up the parliamentary panel expertly lead by Paul Boskett who introduced the topic for debate: ‘The house believes that the voting age should be lowered to sixteen’. Paul Boskett performed expertly as speaker in keeping the debate and questioning flowing. The students themselves put an enormous amount of thought and effort into their points and responses. The debate took many twists and turns as students considered their thoughts and experiences; arguments were well thought out and passionately delivered. The result of the debate saw 38 votes to the Noes and 8 votes to the Ayes; a result that surprised many of the staff present who had thought that students would have wanted the voting age to have been lowered.
The feedback from the visiting speakers was extremely positive and highlighted the effort and engagement that the students put in. Matthew May said it was ‘great to have young people challenge us directly and for them to come back on any answers given.’ Andrea Leadsom said “I found the day absorbing. It was refreshing to see the seriousness with which the democratic process was debated and it was a privilege for me to be there’. A memorable day for all.