Children take over council headquarters for a lesson on democracy

Local Democracy Week at Tower Hamlets 2018 (2)

Children dressed up to role play being the Speaker and Mace Bearer

They may not have all taken their SATs yet, but a group of local students has been brave enough to take a turn at running Tower Hamlets’ council chamber for a lesson on democracy.

The students, from five Tower Hamlets’ primary schools, visited the council’s town hall last week to learn about the levels of government and how they fit together in the democratic process. They also heard from the Speaker of the Council, Councillor Ayas Miah and Councillors Peter Golds and Asma Islam on what a typical day may involve and why they enjoy their roles.

Children were quizzed on important political people and places, took part in mock debates and dressed up to role play being the Speaker and Mace Bearer.

Debates included how to best allocate playground funding, and saw children take a step back in time to discuss if women should be given the right to vote.  

Tower Hamlets Mayor John Biggs said: “I was delighted to meet a very eager group of students from the borough at our council chamber. It’s wonderful to see children so engaged with what happens here at the council and why the community’s voice is so important.

“The students were particularly interested in how democracy came about, the Suffragette movement and our borough’s proud history of ground-breaking women. There was great participation in the mock debates – maybe this was first taste of local government for some of our future leaders.”

Students were from Bangabandhu Primary School, Culloden Primary Academy, St Edmund Catholic Primary School, Hermitage Primary School and Stewart Headlam Primary School.

  • Mellina Benmerabet, age 10 said: “I really enjoyed looking at other people’s points of view and debating, because it gave me a taste of how people would actually debate if it was a serious case. It really changed my mind about jobs like this, so it would make me want to speak out more often.”
  • Thaia Amina Chowdhury, age 11 said: “I found it really interesting to see all the buildings that play a really important role. I enjoyed the debate because it was very realistic and it gave me a taste of how debating would be if I liked to do it in future.”
  • Maymuna Rahman, age 11 said: “It was very fun as we got to debate as if we were actually adults and we were part of the chamber.”
  • Temiloluwa Olajide, age 11 said: “I really enjoyed that we learned debating in greater depth. I really liked the other schools’ points because I think they made sense, and I also liked my friends’ points.” 

Students also expressed enthusiasm about the history of democracy and remarked that democracy was important because it ‘helped people vote and stick together’.

The visits took place on 16 and 18 October as part of Local Democracy Week, which celebrates and promotes democratic participation at grassroots level.

View the photos on our Facebook page.

Posted on Wednesday 24th October 2018