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Priestley students speak up for democracy

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BRITAIN’S Minister for the Constitution met students at Priestley College to discover how they would encourage more young people to vote.

Chris Skidmore MP outlined his vision for democracy before hearing how staff and students have promoted a democratic culture within college.

Then students presented their ideas for increasing interest in politics amongst their peers.

Chris said: “It is great to see so many students engaging in a debate about our democracy and I congratulate Priestley College on their hard work to promote this engagement,”

“Over the last year I have met with people from across the UK to better understand the barriers to voting, as part of my Every Voice Matters tour. I want to ensure that every member of our society who is entitled to do so has been able to have that equal chance, that equal right, to participate in our democracy, and to have their say.”

Priestley students were joined by pupils from Sir Thomas Boteler and Great Sankey Primary School during the visit.

The young people argued their peers were interested in voting, but had to be offered policies that appealed to them.

They added that children should be introduced to politics at primary age in the way that Great Sankey pupils are at their school.

Priestley student Tom Bedworth said: “Today felt like the Government was making a real effort to listen to us rather than simply making decisions on our behalf.”

Mr Skidmore’s visit follows on from Priestley College receiving the British Youth Council’s Discovering Democracy Award.

It celebrates the success of schools and colleges that equip students with the skills and knowledge to play a full and active part in society.

Among the ways Priestley encourages its students to take part are through Question Time panels during General Election campaigns and Model UN Conferences, which increase student awareness of world issues.

Senior Tutor Mark Salmon said: “At Priestley we are committed to active citizenship and are determined to raise awareness of political issues and active participation in politics and a drive to increase voter registration.

“It runs through all aspects of the curriculum so for our students to be able to put their ideas to Chris seems fitting and is also a great honour.”

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