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Votes for all? – Headmaster’s Blog – Wednesday 28th June 2017

June 28, 2017
Ballard votes for all blog

Votes for all?

At a time when general elections are very much the ‘vogue’ I read this in the Times:

A kindergarten in Germany has given three-year-olds the vote. The issues subject to votes at the nursery, in the northern state of Schleswig-Holstein, include what game to play next or which food to have for lunch. “Young people can and should learn about democracy,” said Kristin Alheit, the Social Democratic Party social affairs minister of Schleswig-Holstein.

I am all for democracy in its place and context but I do wonder what chaos might ensue if we were asked to vote for which food we wanted for lunch each day! We conduct ‘mock elections’ to help our children understand the democratic political process. Most recently our children voted for a Conservatives win with a landslide ahead of the Liberals and then the Greens with Labour in fourth place – so much for mirroring the National vote! These occasions are all very helpful in a school setting to get some idea of what voting is all about – and also to understand something of the limitations of votes.

 

Schools, of course, are not democracies per se: this might make it awkward if pupils voted on which lessons to attend (or if to attend at all) and how long the holidays should be – let alone when to come into school and whether or not to do tests! There are lots of opportunities to express opinions (staff, pupils and parents) and there’s then a process by which these views are considered, sifted and acted upon. We have a very active School Council with elected pupil representatives for each Form across years three through eleven. They bring issues and ideas from their year groups, debate them and make suggestions to the staff leadership team as well as taking ideas to the pupils in their form for discussion

Ballard Pre-Prep British values democracy

With a general election on the horizon here we have Year 2 learning about democracy and British values  – June 2017

Our recent Parents Survey and Parents’ Forum, for example, gave excellent input into current issues and concerns – as well as making proposals for future development – which senior staff now take on to consider and implement as possible and appropriate.

Ballard School prefects

The selection of Head Boy /Girl and their Deputies is also a very democratic process. Senior pupils have to write a full application letter for these positions, be interviewed and make a short speech to their peer group. Their peers then vote (in secret) whilst staff discuss candidates at length (also min confidence, and consider their service, work ethic and involvement across all areas of school life) before the Senior Management Team and myself reach our conclusions – a lengthy, exhaustive and very fair process, I feel.

Votes for all? Certainly – but in time and context and with a judicious amount of education and training!

Alastair Reid (Headmaster)

We tweet from @BallardSchool but follow @BallardSport for a focus on Ballard’s Sporting calendar.

Ballard School is an independent, private co-educational school in New Milton, Hampshire, providing an outstanding level of education for nursery to GCSE. With small class sizes and proven academic excellence, we strive to nurture the academic potential of all students. Learn more about our academic programmes, pastoral care, facilities and school ethos by visiting our website or by requesting a prospectus here.

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