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Democracy: Have your say

To help students understand that democracy means that people are able to have their say.

by Tim Scott

Suitable for Whole School (Sec)

Aims

To help students understand that democracy means that people are able to have their say.

Preparation and materials

  • Produce an ideas sheet that invites students to write down their ideas for improving their school (tell them to be polite but to be creative and think big!).
  • It is likely that school governors will be very interested in hearing the views of students for improving the school. Let the Head Teacher know about the assembly and ask her/him to ask for the governors’ support. You may like to invite a school governor to come in to talk about what their role involves.
  • You could make a display in the school of the views of students or even have a vote on a few suggestions that could be possible to realize within your school.
  • You need a reader for the quotation later on in the assembly.
  • Prepare a PowerPoint display of some of the better-known ‘names’ in the new government for the Reflection
  • For further resources http://www.parliament.uk/education/teaching-resources-lesson-plans/magna-carta-assembly-plan/

Assembly

  1. If you haven’t pre-prepared the ideas sheet, do that to begin the assembly.
  2. Did any of you see the coverage of the election in May? Can anyone explain what a ‘hung parliament’ means? Were you happy with the result?

    Elections are opportunities for us to decide on the type of country we want to live in.
  3. Democratic countries have elections in order to try to change their countries for the better. We live in one of the world’s oldest democracies. Some historians argue that the first moves towards democracy in this country took place with the signing of a treaty called the Magna Carta in 1215. The treaty required the king of England at the time, King John, to have a duty to protect certain rights of his subjects, and restricted his powers under the law.
  4. At the start of this new school year, we want you to think about your likes and dislikes in this school environment. We would like you to have your say. Do you feel that it is an attractive place to be in? Do you have enough computers? Do you have any ideas for improving this school? They will be presented to our school governors and you will have an opportunity to vote on which idea could be put into practice in the future.
  5. Reader: ‘It is the duty of government to make it difficult for people to do wrong, easy to do right,’ William Gladstone, Liberal prime minister of the 19th century.6. We need good leaders in every area of our society. Without good political leaders, laws would be passed that would make it easier for people to do wrong things and get away with them. Gladstone was right about what governments exist to do – good leaders make it harder to do wrong and easier to do right. Without good political leaders, the country would descend into a very unstable place where the poorest and most vulnerable in society were not being looked after. Many believe a society should be judged on how well it looks after its most needy and vulnerable. Good government frees up people to take responsibility to do good and confront things when they are bad.

Time for reflection

Light a candle, and pause.

Show the PowerPoint of the new government.

Could you do this one day? Could one of us, here in this assembly, work as a politician, perhaps in government, or even lead the government?

Or could you eventually be a school governor, affecting what happens to children and young people like you, at their school?

There’s no reason why that couldn’t happen.

Prayer
We think of our leaders – whether those with political power or those that volunteer their time as school governors to help run our school. Thank you for democracy which provides a way for us to have our say.
Amen.

Music

‘Things can only get better’ by D:ream, or one of the pieces associated with the recent election.

Publication date: January 2010   (Vol.12 No.1)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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