Pupil power counts at school’s alternative election

PARTY TIME ... back from left, Jordan Sama and Nicola Ingram with, front from left, Jarrow School staff, Joanne Murray, Leonie Kameli and Donna Hodgson.
PARTY TIME ... back from left, Jordan Sama and Nicola Ingram with, front from left, Jarrow School staff, Joanne Murray, Leonie Kameli and Donna Hodgson.

SCHOOL students in South Tyneside went to the polls last week in their own alternative general election.

Instead of choosing from the usual political parties, students from Jarrow School, in Field Terrace, Jarrow, formed their own parties and drew up a set of policies.

We wanted to promote British values, raise awareness of the electoral process and show the importance of voting. We also intended to make voting seem like a less intimidating experience, as we do not want them to be put off from it in the future.

Donna Hodgson, school council co-ordinator

Five parties contested the election, which was held alongside the big event on Thursday, with Leone Kamely’s Jarrow Peoples’ Party claiming victory with 57.28 per cent of the vote.

The election was organised by the school’s Head of Year 11 and School Council Co-ordinator, Donna Hodgson.

She said: “We had five parties and each one had to come up with three key policies and pitch them to the rest of the school.

“The winning party’s policies then came into force on Friday.”

The Jarrow Peoples’ Party topped the polls after unveiling some crowd-pleasing policies, which gave the students a very different school day on Friday.

Donna said: “Leone’s party promised a non-uniform day so they could express themselves fully, a more enjoyable lunch experience, so lunch was extended from 30 minutes to 45 minutes, and we also had music in the hall and football on the field.

“Writing was banned from all lessons for more practical and interactive learning.”

The Why So Serious Party claimed second place with 28.64 per cent of the vote and were followed by the Freedom Party on 7.68 per cent, Lawson Liberals on four per cent and the Jarra Gramma Party on 2.4 per cent.

Representatives from each party were hard at work in the days leading up to the election.

Donna explained: “Everyone has been campaigning for the past week, they have put up posters throughout the school and I organised assemblies based around the election.

“On the day of the election we closed the school library and turned it into a polling station, while our librarian and school liaison officer dressed up as suffragettes to enhance the students’ knowledge of the fight women faced for the right to vote.”

While the mock election may have had a fun outcome, it was the result of long-term planning and had a more serious message at its core.

Donna said: “A couple of months ago, the headteacher approached me and asked if I could arrange something around the election.

“We wanted to promote British values, raise awareness of the electoral process and show the importance of voting.

“We also intended to make voting seem like a less intimidating experience as we do not want them to be put off from it in the future.”

Donna said the election was a success, with 625 students and staff casting their vote, a turnout of 92.39 per cent, and it has inspired the school to do something similar in the future.

She added: “There has been a real buzz about this and the students came in this morning talking about who is going to win the General Election.

“It has been a massive success.”

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