#ffynoneGE2017 launches with speeches and visiting experts

It’s been a busy week in politics at Ffynone House. So much so, there was a genuine mood of anticipation in assembly on Friday where our electoral candidates gave their opening campaign speeches.

FHS election candidates
Conservative and Labour candidates await their opportunity to launch their campaigns

#ffynoneGE2017 is a cross-curricular project established by Ffynone House School to enable students to shadow the General Election. The aim is to engage young people in democracy and politics involving the wide range of subjects taught at the school.

The five students who represent the main political parties gave confident and persuasive performances exceeding all expectations. For the rest of the day, politics was indeed the talk of the playground as students discussed the content and style of each speech.

Alisha, Year 8, was the first of the five to introduce herself and her party and she certainly set the bar high.  Watch her Liberal Democrat opening speech here.

Over fifty students in Years 7-10 are actively involved in the process. Even those who have not elected to be part of the candidates’ teams, press or administration are displaying a keen interest in finding out about the different political parties and the various techniques they will use to win votes.

Hands-on research training

On Wednesday, the usual curriculum was suspended for part of the day to welcome guest speakers.

Dr Matt Wall coaches students in reading digital political material
Dr Matt Wall coaches students in reading digital political material

Dr Matt Wall, of Swansea University’s Department of Politics and Cultural Studies, led the candidates in a practical session on digital politics. This involved using our ICT suite to search for each party’s website to establish their key beliefs and priorities. Students used literacy skills to consider the connotations of each party’s slogan and mine the complex text to find their core values.

After this session, Malika, Year 7, reflected that “People think politics isn’t for young children but we’re proving that people my age can understand politics.  Maybe if all secondary pupils did this kind of thing then there would be more people wanting to be MPs and more people ready to get involved at a younger age.”

Presiding Officer explains system complexities

Students discuss the administration of the voting process with Brian Miles, ex-presiding officer
Students and headteacher,  Mr Boulding, discuss the administration of the voting process with Brian Miles, ex-Presiding Officer

The administration team are perhaps the most important people in an election process as the vote simply cannot take place without their systems and organisation.

Brian Miles, retired Presiding Officer, gave our administrators the benefit of his time and expertise to guide them through registration and polling.

He was impressed by how naturally students worked together, despite being from different year groups. He added that “it was a pleasure to work with such intelligent, polite and attentive young people”. They are now busy using their numeracy skills to plan timescales and allocate voters to different polling stations.

Journalist advises on interview technique

Student voters analyse campaign material from the Welsh Labour Party.
Student voters analyse current campaign material from the Welsh Labour Party

South Wales Evening Post journalist, Geraint Thomas, offered an insight into the cut and thrust of reporting local politics. He has a wealth of experience and was able to build our press team’s confidence and challenge them to think carefully about the questions they planned to ask and how to get the most from their interviews.

This advice will come into its own next week when the team will be grilling both student and local candidates about their parties and their reasons for getting involved in politics. They hope to publish the results of these interviews on the school website.

Visits from local candidates

The excitement continues next week when we will have a series of special assemblies with local representatives from each of the five main parties.  These visitors will give campaign-style speeches to all the students, offer advice to their student representatives and have interviews with our press team.