Ten-year-olds make politics their primary focus with launch of first-ever Pupil Parliament
Politically-savvy kids aged 10 and above are now set to give youngsters a voice with the launch of Manchester’s first-ever pupil parliament.
The Pupil Parliament – which launched recently (25 January) and is not replicated anywhere else in the country – is currently made up of year 5 youngster from 13 primary schools across the city, working with older children up to the age of 16 at Manchester Enterprise Academy.
The concept was the brainchild of The Willows Community Primary school and Haveley Hey primary, both in Wythenshawe, along with St Mary’s C of E in Moss Side.
The idea to develop future Westminster movers and shakers is also a progression of a ‘Rights Respecting’ programme that many of the city’s schools are part of, to encourage, nurture and listen to the views of children. The programme is a Unicef initiative, which sees schools gain bronze, silver and gold status on how they embed the values of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.
While the rest of the country may be in the grip of Brexit – Manchester’s pupil pundits turned their attention to the key global issues they want to cover. Top of the list was global poverty, followed in joint second place by good health and wellbeing; and also gender equality. Peace and justice issues came in third, while climate action along with clean water came in as fourth most important topic for the youngsters. The final part of their top five choices was about quality education.
One of the schools, St Mary’s C of E in Moss Side also decided to make air pollution their own campaign topic and had a takeover day on Friday (February 1), where the youngsters taught lessons on the issue.
Councillor Luthfur Rahman, Executive Member for Schools, Culture and Leisure at Manchester City Council, who attended the inauguration of the pupil parliament, said: “It was thoroughly refreshing to see more than 100 young people all keen to make a difference and play their part in some of the biggest issues facing the city – and the country.
“This level of aspiration is what we want for all our young people – so that their voices are heard as they become the caring, compassionate people they deserve to be.”
The pupil parliament will be run and governed by the children with the help of their teachers and and will also act as a type of progression to the city’s Youth Council.
Councillor Richard Leese, Leader of Manchester City Council, said: “I applaud such vision at such a young age – who knows we may have a future leader for the city in that group of children.
“This is all about creating opportunities, taking initiative and speaking out on the things that matter. I’m really interested to see that good health and wellbeing figure so high in the priorities – especially as the city is in the middle of major work to create a healthier Manchester, with more help brought into communities, which includes addressing poverty and inequality.”