As the country goes to the polls on Thursday 7 May, pupils at Oundle School are holding their own mock election with pupil representatives representing the main political parties.
On Thursday, every House, both boarding and day, plus all staff, will act as a constituency so pupils will not even need to leave their home to vote.
Head of Politics, Matt King commented, “It is our responsibility to convince young people of their responsibilities and to give them an informed and unbiased background in political issues. This applies to all pupils and not just those studying politics. Having a basic understanding of democracy in the UK and how one can participate in politics is important right from an early age. In many ways, politics is more accessible to younger generations than ever before. Social media and immediate access to news through technology has changed the way in which young people digest and interact with information.”
Oundle held a mock Scottish referendum earlier this year and uses its new Trivium course – Third Form lessons which cover a range of issues including political concepts - to ensure that no pupil can go through a year at Oundle without having at least some understanding of the basic principles of democracy and their responsibilities as British citizens – or indeed citizens of any country.
Matt added, “It is hoped that pupils will take away an ability to formulate views and opinions as well as being able to challenge the views of others. What we want to do is encourage and challenge our pupils to think for themselves. We want them to move beyond preconceptions or prejudices and to think independently about the bigger picture, not just their own environment. By the end of this election season we hope that younger members of the School will be in a position to discuss politics, or at least issues of particular interests, with staff, peers and parents
Representing the Liberal Democrats, Lower Sixth former, Hetty Hodgson (17) commented, “I wanted to run in Oundle’s mock election firstly as research into my chosen party. At the same time, looking into other parties will give me more scope and understanding of what the outcome of the election could be.
I feel it is an event of upmost importance for the School to allow the pupils full understanding into the parties. However, with this excitement comes slight nerves as I realise that the outcome of this election could mark a change in the running of this county for the next four years and have greater implications in the future, for good or for bad.”
Green Party representative, Alexander Wienand (16) added, “It is a fascinating time to live in the UK; politics has never been so diverse. Young people can feel like they have a voice now, and finally parties are starting to realise this and make policies for young people. I feel strongly about a green agenda being present in parliament, there aren't enough MPs with scientific backgrounds, and we need to stop shying away from the problem. For me, the Greens have been the party of the young people, and I really connect with the idea of reaching out to teenagers, instead of the silver vote. I hope this will be the start of a seismic shift in our Country's politics that interests a wider, more diverse range of demographics than ever before.”
Labour party candidate, Kieran Marray (17) commented, “I am too young to vote in the actual election, so a mock election seemed a great way to get involved in some capacity. I personally believe in many of the ideas set out by the Labour party and the ways they want to help young people like us all across the country. Trying to spread the word and convince other people of this seemed a very interesting challenge. Also the last mock election happened in my first year at Oundle; I remember voting in it and thinking how wonderful it would be to actually take part, so I wouldn't miss this opportunity. I will be suggesting to my peers that they pay at least a little attention to the election, as it will influence the lives of every single one of them. The amount of taxes they pay, whether they will be able to get a house, the healthcare they receive when they are ill, all of this is down to politics. So if they want to help change this or help push for what they feel is right they need to be aware and be engaged in politics. Otherwise the people in Westminster can transform their entire life and enact laws which are unfair or they hate without them even having a say or even knowing why.”
Conservative candidate, Ali Mason (17) commented, “The election for me has the same feeling as when a World cup or an Olympics comes around and you can feel the buzz around it everywhere you go. As a keen follower of political affairs and having an abundance of opinions about the general election it is absolutely gutting to only be seventeen and not able to vote. So with the Oundle election as the next best thing to the national one I am extremely keen to play a significant part and broadcast my personal interpretations, as well as having some fun in a busy exam season. As Winston Churchill said; "Democracy is the worst form of government, apart from all others." Our political system might not be perfect but it's the only thing we have, it is our one chance to make a contribution to how our country is run and it only comes every 5 years.”
Background Information on Oundle School
Oundle School is situated in the quintessentially English market town of Oundle, about 90 miles north of London. The School’s buildings, dating from the 17th to the 21st centuries, are dispersed throughout the town, which is, to a large extent, its campus.
The School’s history dates back to 1556, when Sir William Laxton, Master of the Worshipful Company of Grocers and Lord Mayor of London, endowed and re-founded the original Oundle Grammar School, of which he was a former pupil. In 1876, the Grocer’s Company divided the School into two parts; Laxton Grammar School, primarily for the inhabitants of the town, and Oundle School, primarily for pupils from further afield. In 2000, the Grocers’ Company reunited the two schools under the common name of Oundle School and retained the name of Laxton for the day House.
At the beginning of the 20th century, Oundle was put firmly on the map of leading English public schools by its most famous headmaster, F W Sanderson, who established Oundle’s reputation as one of the great science and engineering schools, a reputation still renowned today. In 2007, SciTec - a major and ground-breaking new science complex - opened, housing 16 state-of-the-art laboratories. Phase two of the SciTec vision is now underway, with enhanced Design Technology facilities and a new purpose-built Mathematics Department planned to link the STEM subjects both physically and philosophically. A concurrent Sports Masterplan will upgrade sporting facilities across the School over the next few years, including a new 1st XI cricket pavilion in 2015.
There are currently 1110 pupils are on roll at Oundle School, with 865 boarders and 250 day pupils. Also within the Corporation of Oundle School is Laxton Junior School, a day School for children aged 4 to 11.