Decision time at Spalding High School election count

Students voting in a mock election at Spalding High School are Tilly Whyles, Amy Whittington, Lane Dewsberry and Faith Cooper.  Photo by Tim Wilson.
Students voting in a mock election at Spalding High School are Tilly Whyles, Amy Whittington, Lane Dewsberry and Faith Cooper. Photo by Tim Wilson.
  • Students too young to vote experience May 7 ballot

General election fever has reached Spalding High School where students cast their votes in a mock election held just two weeks before the real thing.

Young politicians and their youthful manifestos dominated conversations in classrooms and along the school’s corridors in the run-up to polling day itself when about 55 per cent of students eligible and willing to vote cast their ballots.

Student voters Sophie Ashdown, Megan French, Elinor Hughes and Miollie Smith.  Photo by Tim Wilson.

Student voters Sophie Ashdown, Megan French, Elinor Hughes and Miollie Smith. Photo by Tim Wilson.

In an echo of the real thing on Thursday, students took on the role of candidates representing Conservative, Green, Labour, Liberal Democrats and UKIP parties.

Students heard presentations from five Year 9 students about each political party before they were encouraged to increase their knowledge further by researching and discussing the main issues surrounding Thursday’s general election both at school and at home.

History teacher Rob Hempsall, who acted as returning officer for the election, said: “Despite most of the school population being unable to vote in an election until after 2015, it is important that we encourage them to think about democracy now.

“We are consistently told that young people have zero interest in politics but this election has been interesting and, at times, the girls were discussing little else.”

We are consistently told that young people have zero interest in politics but this election has been interesting and, at times, the girls were discussing little else.

History teacher and returning officer Rob Hempsall

The final result was quite close, based on the percentage of votes cast, with the Conservatives on 196 votes (37.7%), Greens 158 (30.3%), Labour 57 (11%), Liberal Democrats 26 (5%) and UKIP 83 (16%).

But the use of the first-past-the-post system, as used for general elections, meant the Conservatives won a majority of three seats in a mock parliament of 41 MPs.

Mr Hempsall said: “It was really pleasing for me to see such engagement by the students with important issues and some of them want us to run a mock election every year.

“Youth disengagement with politics is a big problem and we hope that projects like this will help the students to realise the importance of voting.”

Mock election candidate and Spalding High School student Rebecca Duckworth.  Photo by Tim Wilson.

Mock election candidate and Spalding High School student Rebecca Duckworth. Photo by Tim Wilson.