Derwen College students are being supported to have their say about the running of the country in the upcoming general election.
Learner Voice and Personal, Social and Health Education (PSHE) teams worked with students during a Derwen College General Election Workshop. The impartial workshop helped learners to gain a better understanding of each party and their election promises; supporting them to make an informed decision on who they would like to vote for on 12th December.
North Shropshire candidates supplied statements which were read out aloud to students. The students were also familiarised with each candidate’s name and party logo.
The workshop explained the different parties, party leaders, North Shropshire candidates and election promises. Statements were read from candidates for Conservative, Labour, Liberal Democrat, Green and The Shropshire Party
The workshop answered questions including where to vote, what help students would be allowed on the day, how to mark a ballot paper and whether or not to tell people how you have voted.
Learner Voice co-ordinator Sarah Laszlo said: “It was essential that each candidate was given a fair hearing and that we remain entirely impartial. We knew it was unrealistic to organise for all five candidates to visit at the same time. We therefore asked them to provide written statements that we could deliver.
“I was really impressed with how engaged students were by what is an undeniably complex topic. There was some passionate debate about many issues that directly concern students. Many of them are keen to have their vote on 12th December.
“As a college, we have only just had our Student Union Board elections – where candidates make a speech and students hold a secret ballot as to who they believe would best represent them – so the democratic process is fresh in their minds.”
Democracy in action
Many learners at the College will be voting in a general election for the first time.
However, students are familiar with the democratic process through the College’s robust programme of Learner Voice.
Derwen College is proud to actively promote British values including democracy. It supports students to influence decision making, at national, local and community level.
Learner Voice encourages Derwen College students to develop discussion, negotiation, decision-making and problem-solving skills.
A representative and at least one deputy representative from each department sit on the Student Union Board, with every student being part of the democratic election process each October. Student Union Board representatives meet with the college’s senior leadership team and governors every term. During these meetings, the representatives voice and carry forward peers’ ideas.
Derwen College has been part of the National Union of Students since 2008 and was the first specialist college to join. Students vigorously lobby for the rights of all young people with learning difficulties and disabilities.