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Do young Bristolians want the vote?

The youth will control our future and how the world ends up for the next generation. But are they ready?

City

The youth will control our future and how the world ends up for the next generation. But even if 16-year-olds could vote, are they prepared?

We are young students, who go to a school in Hartcliffe and are doing work experience at the Cable, and we are here to address this issue. We conducted a straw poll of 20 classmates and the results are striking. In summary, the majority of young people we spoke to wanted to have the voting age lowered – but currently didn’t feel educated about the general election.

Is the education system preparing us?

We feel that young people have been expected to just know about politics, having learned it off our own backs or absorbed it from the news… but this isn’t really the case. In our experience, students don’t really know how the political system works. As students, we always get told that the ‘outside world’ is hard, so is the education system capable of preparing us more? A question we would liked to be answered is: if the voting age was to be lowered, would students be educated enough to make an informed decision?

How the school helps.

Our school say they are adapting and trying to change in order to help their students. The teachers we spoke to believe they are attempting to make it more engaging for the students, such as in business lessons. We did debates and politics for a term and it was helpful. During other lessons, politics and the EU referendum were taught. We spent a week on it during school, even voting to see what the students believed. The majority of them voted to stay in the EU. We may have been able to change the results of Brexit if we voted.

What needs to change?

However, after interviewing some students, the majority of them felt like they are not able to vote now – or even when they are 18 – because they “don’t know much about it”. 66.7% of them still said they would like the voting age to be lowered, after they finish learning about it in their tutor time sessions. In other words, we want a chance but we need you to give us a chance. We may not be ready, we may not be the smartest generation, but that can change if adults are willing to trust our choices.

We asked students their opinions on how to change the way schools teaches politics and they said “have a lesson a term to learn about it in a fun way”, “make the way they teach you engaging by maybe having our own debate” and “explain the party’s policies not the outcomes”. As said before, we are being listened to and the school is trying.

The problem with the education system is when they do lessons on politics, it’s sometimes “not made engaging for some students”. Therefore it results in them thinking politics is boring or they end up thinking “it doesn’t affect me” and then don’t take part in voting later on in their life. 38% of people did not vote in the EU referendum, the majority of those who didn’t vote were younger. This shows that people are already stopping to bother with politics as they do not think it will affect them, when in reality, it could make a massive difference in their day to day lives.

It’s your choice!

Is this what the public wants: A wider age range deciding their future? It seems the majority of students we spoke to do, but feel like they should know more on the matter before they have the opportunity. So do we keep the voting age the same? These are the kind of questions that need to be discussed more within political debates.

This article is written by two students on a work experience placement at the Bristol Cable.

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