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Parliament Week 2012

To explain ‘democracy’ as a central theme of Parliament Week and explore the qualities that make a good leader.

by Gordon Lamont

Suitable for Key Stage 2

Aims

To explain ‘democracy’ as a central theme of Parliament Week and explore the qualities that make a good leader.

Preparation and materials

Assembly

  1. Explain that something called ‘Parliament Week’, run by the UK Parliament, will take place from 19 to 25 November.

    The week aims to get people across the UK talking about Parliament, politics and democracy.
  2. Ask what the word ‘parliament’ means and value all responses, drawing out the following points:

    –  There are the Houses of Parliament in London, where politicians from all parts of the United Kingdom discuss important issues and make laws.

    –  There is also a parliament in Scotland. In Northern Ireland and Wales the people elect ‘Assemblies’.

    –  Different parliaments have different systems for electing people, but one way or another, Members of Parliament are chosen by the people they serve.

    You might, if appropriate, like to mention that in the UK there is also the ‘House of Lords’, where members are not elected. They are chosen for their experience and knowledge and offer help to the elected government, sometimes getting MPs to ‘think again’!
  3. Explain that although it can all seem a bit complicated, elected parliaments are all ways of being democratic.

    Ask for suggestions about what the words ‘democratic’ and ‘democracy’ mean and get to the idea that they are about the ordinary people of a country having the right to choose who leads them.

    Abraham Lincoln, American president in the 1800s, called democracy ‘Government of the people, by the people, for the people’.
  4. Suggest that pupils try this out by having a go at electing a leader in a fantasy election.

    To display the quotes, go to: https://www.radiowaves.co.uk/story/301978/title/whatmakesagreatleader (there’s also a short film there that you might like to show), or read out/display the quotes from each leader included below.

    (You may like to explain that Mahatma Gandhi was an Indian who, in the last century, used completely non-violent methods to help make his country independent of Britain.)

    Go through each slide and statement explaining that the children will have one vote each at the end to choose who they feel would make the best leader of the country based on what they say and anything they know about them.

    –  ‘When I despair, I remember that all through history the ways of truth and love have always won.’ (Gandhi)

    –  ‘You have to be unique, and different, and shine in your own way.’ (Lady Gaga)

    –  ‘Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak. Courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen.’ (Winston Churchill)

    –  ‘I stand for freedom of expression, doing what you believe in, and going after your dreams.’ (Madonna)

    –  ‘Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.’ (Nelson Mandela)

    –  ‘I still look at myself and want to improve.’ (David Beckham)
  5. Hold the vote with a show of hands and announce the winner! Point out that it can sometimes be difficult to choose – perhaps you wanted to vote for more than one person, or you were disappointed that your person didn’t win. But this is how democracy works.

    In the end, everyone agrees to go with what most people (the majority) decide and once the person who has been elected takes his or her place, that person represents everyone (not just those who voted for them!) – that’s democracy!

Time for reflection

Fill in the blanks in your mind:

–  Democracy is . . .

–  Democracy is important because . . .

–  If I were standing for election, my message to the people would be . . .

Song/music

‘In Christ there is no east or west’ (Come and Praise, 66)

Publication date: November 2012   (Vol.14 No.11)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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