14 Dec

Democracy

The news has been dominated this week by the Brexit debate, votes of no confidence and the world at Westminster. I feel, when I read, watch or listen to the news, that it is easy to forget that there is world and a life that continues beyond that bubble. We know, from our daily interactions, that ordinary people continue to have the highs and lows, struggles and successes as they always have but these real life stories and events do get lost in the national hand wringing.

It is important for our children to understand that each and everyone of us has a part to play in shaping the national destiny. Our pupils must understand that the contributions we all make add to the society we get or deserve. If we stand by and just observe from the sidelines, carping about the outcomes, we will never be able to truly grasp destiny. 

So what …?
We have a strong PSHE programme, which has at its heart modules of work on democracy, the law and rights and responsibilities. We ensure that history is well taught and well understood; the mistakes of our forebears are analysed and debated. We have a strong and meaningful school council. We have prefects and a head girl and boy; elected positions with real teeth. We teach and model tolerance and respect through our schemes of work, through our assembly programme, through our guest speakers and through the way we all interact with each other. 

The future isn’t written. We must never feel that there is an inevitable outcome. Debate should not be quashed with a line about ‘just getting on with it…’ Our children, our pupils will hold the keys to our collective destiny. They are the voters of tomorrow, the politicians of the next generation. They will allow me, allow us all, to wallow in a safe and prosperous dotage. But only if we teach them well, we model those behaviours for them right now and if encourage an open, honest yet respectful dialogue. 

'Guard against the impostures of pretended patriotism.' George Washington

'Elections remind us not only of the rights but the responsibilities of citizenship in a democracy'. Robert Kennedy