Pupils swap classroom for Council chamber

Forget Brexit, the hot topic up for debate in Folkestone & Hythe District Council chamber recently was the length of a school's lunch break.


And it wasn't district councillors putting it to the vote - instead, members of the School Council at Stella Maris Catholic Primary School were arguing their case.

It was part of a visit by pupils to the Council offices to learn about real-world democracy and how it compares to their system at school.

The youngsters, aged between seven and 11, had a tour with Cllr David Owen, Chairman of Folkestone & Hythe District Council, before moving into the chamber for their debate. Council officials had prepared a report setting out the background to their discussion, together with options for them to vote on, just like councillors have for each committee meeting.

I was hugely impressed with these young people, who will be our future voters and possibly even local councillors.
They had a keen awareness of how national democracy works, including the role of the Speaker of the House of Commons; and some of them had been following the Brexit debates.
It was wonderful to see how engaged they already are and I hope some of them will consider representing their areas as councillors when they are old enough.
Cllr David Owen, Chairman of Folkestone & Hythe District Council

The children compared election stories with Cllr Owen, and were also able to try on his ceremonial chain.

After debating the pros and cons of a longer lunch break, they voted to extend it by 15 minutes and will now put the motion to the school's management team.

Anyone interested in organising a school visit to Folkestone & Hythe District Council can find out more by emailing chairman@folkestone-hythe.gov.uk

Published on 04 February 2019