Bringing Politics to Life

Posted on: 27 Oct 2014

At Cranleigh School, Surrey, the Year 13 Politics students are actively involved in politics and really get to the heart of the matter. Rob Verdon, History and Politics Teacher, explains how…

The Study of Politics must be live and meaningful, especially for Sixth Form students. Our approach has always been to ‘boldly go’ into politics and approach those running the country and we’ve found that not only do they have time for our students they gain a lot from the experience too.

It’s well worth engaging local politicians to get to the heart of gritty subjects on the national agenda. And with the general election looming, we’ve decided to run a number of different events to help encourage more students to become more active in political affairs and really bring the subject to life.

The rise of UKIP in 2014 has put the question of Britain’s membership of the EU as one of the major battlegrounds of the General Election next year. Rising levels of immigration and the dangers of another Eurozone financial crisis has led to more and more calls for the UK to ‘go it alone’, resulting in David Cameron indicating that the Conservatives would call a referendum on the EU in 2017, should they been returned to power next May.

This week a team of five politics students, who will also be first time voters in May 2015 have set out to investigate both sides of the EU membership debate, culminating in the creation of a short video on the question “Europe: In or Out”.

Year 13 students (Emily Hill, Fin Chesterman, Abi Dahl, Freddie Philips and Matt Wooten), tested their theory that voters in their local constituency would prefer to keep the status quo conducting a series of interviews with members of each of the major political parties. The Eurosceptic view was put forward by Diane James, UKIP MEP for the South East and Harry Aldridge, UKIP PPC for Guildford. Both were put through a series of tough questions by the Cranleigh team on why leaving the EU was such a priority and were remarkably impressed by the research that the students had put in.

To get the pro-Europe side of the debate, the Cranleigh students interviewed Kelly-Marie Blundell and Richard Wilson, PPCs for the Liberal Democrats and Labour party respectively in the Guildford constituency. Both Kelly-Marie and Richard were delighted to be involved with the project, with Richard remarking that it was ‘great to see young people getting actively involved in politics’. A final interview was conducted with the current MP for Guildford and Government Whip, Anne Milton at her constituency offices in Losely Park. Not only did Anne push the real need for a referendum on the EU question in her interview, but she also gave the students coaching in interviewing technique and on how to capture the ultimate 20 second political soundbite.

To round up the project, the students conducted a snap ‘in/out’ referendum with 100 residents from the Guildford constituency. The result, a resounding 85% vote in favour of staying within the EU, proved their initial hypothesis to be true. All five students have thoroughly enjoyed the experience of investigating this key political issue and all of them are planning to study Politics at University next year. We’d encourage all HisPol departments to get involved with their local government teams , a truly rewarding experience all round.

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