Ahead of UK Parliament week which runs from Monday 14 to Friday 20 November, Dr Dan visited a number of primary schools across Central Suffolk and North Ipswich and was delighted to meet pupils representing their individual school councils.
What really impressed Dr Dan was the enthusiasm and dedication with which the children take their role on the school council. This demonstrates the level of interest and engagement our young people feel with our democracy and while many may feel that people are becoming disengaged with politics, the opposite certainly seems to be ringing true in our younger generations here in Suffolk.
School councils are an excellent way for children to learn about democracy at a very early age and it gives them a voice within their school community. They are made up of a group of students who are elected to represent their fellow students' views. The election process to become a class representative can be hotly contested and Dr Dan very much enjoyed hearing tales of the election tactics and voting process from a number of the children. It was clear to Dr Dan that the pupils take great pride in their role and see it as a way to make changes for the better within their own school community.
School councils are a great platform for students to gain further confidence in public speaking, putting forward the views of their fellow students and making the case for their suggestions; these could be anything from fundraising for new playground equipment, suggesting a change to the school uniform or even initiatives to look out for each other and prevent bullying.
One of the key factors in a successful school council is undoubtedly communication. This can be communication between students to make sure that their ideas are heard, but also communication between staff and Governors, all of whom are working closely together to enhance the school environment.
The role of school councillor helps to further develop essential life skills such working together as a team, communication skills, learning to listen to and respect each other and then to reach a compromise when all sides of the conversation have been put forward. These are all valuable skills which will be needed as children progress through their education and then ultimately into their chosen careers.
UK Parliament Week is an annual festival which has been developed by the Houses of Parliament as part of its Outreach and Engagement service, and it has become a platform for schools to become more involved with Parliament from across the UK, exploring what Parliament and democracy means and encouraging them to become more involved. With over 250 events and activities taking place across the country, from workshops and discussions, to film screenings and historical archives and, UK Parliament Week is a fantastic opportunity to find out how you can better make your voice heard and learn more about the workings of Parliament.
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King’s College Hospital (16 Jan 2018)
Daniel Poulter: My hon. Friend makes a fair point, although it is difficult for a board that has effectively had a merger foisted on it to appreciate fully how a hospital will run across two sites—or even three sites, with Orpington as well. I am sure the Minister will go away and think about that in the context of the PFI and whether something more could be done to help with the PFI debt.
King’s College Hospital (16 Jan 2018)
Daniel Poulter: It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Mr Hollobone. I draw your attention and that of Members to my declaration in the Register of Members’ Financial Interests. It is probably worth pointing out, too, that I had the pleasure of being a medical student at King’s many years ago. I pay tribute to the hon. Member for Dulwich and West Norwood (Helen Hayes) on securing...