Saturday, October 20, 2007

Local Democracy Week

On Wednesday, I visited Pembury Primary School to celebrate Local Democracy Week, and met with the newly elected School Council. Pupils from every year group - from ages six to eleven - had written their own manifesto, canvassed their classmates and eventually won their respective elections, to win a twelve month term of office.

Within just three weeks of their election, every member of the School Council was able to tell me clearly what their priorities were for the coming year. I was also struck by how, when I asked what their reasons were for seeking election, the reasons they gave were exactly the same as I and my colleagues at Borough and County Council gave - they wanted to "make a difference"; to "help others out"; to address a specific problem they felt strongly about.

Their first priority? Seling Christmas cards to other pupils and parents to raise money for a "Buddy Bench" - a playground bench for pupils to sit on if they don't have a friend at playtime. If anyone sees someone sitting on the Buddy bench, they'll come over and be your friend.

I've always been proud of Pembury School. Their kindness, sense of responsibility and simple humanity are a lesson to us all.

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