School pupils are politicians for the day at Leeds Met
Around 50 year 10 pupils from local schools Mount St Mary's, Boston Spa, Lawnswood, Roundhay and Cardinal Heenan, attended the day at the University's Headingley Campus, where they created their own political party manifesto, took part in a referendum and met with local political figureheads: Veronica King, Labour candidate for Elmet and Rothwell, Cllr Christine Macniven, Labour Councillor for Roundhay, Cllr Alex Sobel, Labour and Cooperative Councillor for Moortown, Bill Urry, Labour Councillor for Roundhay, BBC Politics correspondent, Len Tingle, and P.A. to Fabian Hamilton MP, Stephen Towler.
The pupils' manifestos were judged by a panel including staff from the Leeds Metropolitan University Politics and Applied Global Ethics (PAGE) subject group. The prize was awarded to Lawnswood and the runner-up school was Boston Spa. Students and staff also presented an introduction to British politics and led the referendum on faith schools.
Dr Paul Wetherly, Reader in Politics at Leeds Met, commented: "This event, in partnership with Roundhay and Cardinal Heenan schools, was an important part of our focus on work with schools and public engagement. The initiative came from the schools and working with them has been a really positive experience. We hope to make this an annual event. In an age that is characterised in terms of political disengagement, particularly among young people, it was wonderful to have a room full of 14 and 15 year-olds who were enthusiastic about politics. They were given a really stiff task to come up with a party name, identity, logo and specific policy proposals in a very short time and all managed this in a very impressive way."
YvonneRayner, Widening Participation Projects Officer at Leeds Met, added: "We hope that talking to political figures and working alongside our Social Sciences students has inspired the young people to consider taking an active interest in politics and current affairs in the future or just simply stimulated an interest in the subject area. The young people were encouraged to choose to focus on issues which are important to them and we were pleased to see that the day raised passions and started some healthy debate."