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Meet school’s new pupil ‘prime minister’ - showing how politics should be done

PUBLISHED: 10:34 07 October 2020 | UPDATED: 11:57 07 October 2020

Sidegate Primary School prime minister Megan and deputy PM Freddie stood in the academy's election. Picture: SIDEGATE PRIMARY SCHOOL/ACTIVE LEARNING TRUST

Sidegate Primary School prime minister Megan and deputy PM Freddie stood in the academy's election. Picture: SIDEGATE PRIMARY SCHOOL/ACTIVE LEARNING TRUST

Archant

You might think they are more likely to carry a lunchbox than a famous ministerial red briefcase - but this Ipswich school’s new pupil “prime minister” and her deputy are truly showing how politics should be done.

Sidegate Primary School hopes the elections to its parliament teach the young people about the British political system. Pictured are prime minister Megan and deputy prime minister Freddie. Picture: SIDEGATE PRIMARY SCHOOL/ACTIVE LEARNING TRUSTSidegate Primary School hopes the elections to its parliament teach the young people about the British political system. Pictured are prime minister Megan and deputy prime minister Freddie. Picture: SIDEGATE PRIMARY SCHOOL/ACTIVE LEARNING TRUST

Because, at a time of bitter divisions and heated debate, Sidegate Primary School’s very own parliament is refreshingly showing a spirit of teamwork - and that you really can put differences aside for the common good.

The school, in Sidegate Lane, part of the Active Learning Trust (ALT), has for several years given pupils the chance to stand for election to its very own version of the House of Commons, albeit after they have canvassed their classmates for their votes.

The candidates are arranged into political parties, with each voting for their own leader and deputy - with the head of the largest group winning a title coveted by any aspiring politician.

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Megan has been named as Sidegate Primary School's pupil prime minister, with Freddie as deputy prime minister. Picture: SIDEGATE PRIMARY SCHOOL/ACTIVE LEARNING TRUSTMegan has been named as Sidegate Primary School's pupil prime minister, with Freddie as deputy prime minister. Picture: SIDEGATE PRIMARY SCHOOL/ACTIVE LEARNING TRUST

Although this year’s process was more of a US presidential-style vote during the coronavirus crisis, with campaigning instead done by video, winner Megan and deputy Freddie have outlined an ambitious programme for their one-year term of office - which includes introducing learning ambassadors and even taking over from teachers for a day.

They then appoint a cabinet with roles such as chancellor, who will help allocate part of the precious school budget - although headteacher Wendy James acts as Sir Humphrey, to keep the youngsters in check.

The prime minister, Mrs James says, is “put in the spotlight” and tasked with important jobs such as opening sports day and speaking at school events.

The election, she added, is as similar to the Westminster process as possible to help the children learn about the democratic process and how Britain elects its leaders.

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But there, the similarities with the rough and tumble of politics end.

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“Once that is done, they work in a very collaborative way and the parties the children are in don’t really matter,” Mrs James said.

“Successful candidates get a role to play in the school - they might have a subject area like health and safety, one might by chancellor and get money to spend.

“We used to have a school council but we went down this route because it is really important they understand how Britain operates.

“It is a really good way of explaining to them how parliamentary democracy happens.

“We do explain that, in the real world, we’d very much look at that collaborative approach. Wouldn’t it be nice if we did that in British politics?”

Megan, whose manifesto included bringing in learning ambassadors to help pupils, said: “I’m really happy I’m prime minister, so I can help this school be even better than it is already.

“I said that I would make a great prime minister because I would help with your ideas, not just my own.”

Aspiring actor Freddie said he was keen to support Megan in her role and added: “For me, it’s good for my career as I want to be an actor and in my career you have to be good at speaking.”


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