58 school students have taken part in an interactive workshop where they learned about the democratic process and the Council’s role as a community leader.
The Year 6 students from St Luke’s and St Albans Catholic Academies visited the Civic Centre on Tuesday 13 November, where they were set a task to come up with ideas for a leisure facility in Harlow for 5 to 18 year-olds using an imaginary budget of £5 million. The children were asked to consider things like design and location of the facility, costs to service users, transport links and on-site facilities.
The children used real voting booths to elect their chosen classmates as Chair and Vice-Chair, before splitting into four teams, two from each school, to complete the activity. They were provided with a full agenda for a meeting which was held in the Council Chamber, where they debated and voted on how the budget should be used.
Angel, aged 10, from St Luke’s school, said, “I was voted to be Vice-Chair, which I really enjoyed as I got to sit at the front and listen to everyone speaking about their ideas.”
When all the teams had put forward their ideas, which included a Safari Park and a Trampoline Park, the votes were cast and counted, and the acting Chair had the final say, voting in favour of a leisure centre, put forward by St Luke’s Team Two.
Sam, aged 10, from St Alban’s school, was voted by his classmates to take the role of Chair. He said, “It was difficult to choose as all the teams had good ideas, but I enjoyed being able to announce the winners.
“I would like to take part again as I want to be Prime Minister when I’m older.”
Chair of Harlow Council, Councillor Maggie Hulcoop, said “We are keen to get children and young people interested in local democracy from a young age, to help raise awareness and to encourage them to have a say on local issues.
“I was very impressed by how engaged the children were in the democracy workshop and how well they worked together in their teams to come up with some great ideas and confidently present them in front of their peers.
“This has been a fun and important learning experience, not just for the children but also for the Council, as we now have some thought-provoking ideas about the type of facility children and young people might like to see in Harlow.”
To find out more about your Councillors and democracy in Harlow, visit https://www.harlow.gov.uk/councillors