Ben Bradshaw helps to launch New School Parliament

Students at St James School in Exeter were delighted to welcome MP Ben Bradshaw and Exeter City Councillor Emma Morse for the official launch of their new School Parliament.

This important and inspirational visit was organised to help students understand what careers and aspirations linked to democracy are available, how to get involved at a local and national level and to develop an understanding of what democracy looks like outside of school.

Ben Bradshaw, MP said, “I had a brilliant time visiting St James. It’s great to see students so engaged and asking such insightful questions.”

The St James School Parliament resembles grassroot democracy, consisting of a group of students, elected by their peers to represent the views of all the students and push for changes to improve their school. The scheme is run in parallel with the school leadership system with student voice prefects being appointed to launch and run the school council.

Lindsay Skinner, Headteacher as St James School said, “As a national leader of today, Ben Bradshaw is supporting and inspiring our students to be the national leaders of tomorrow.”

Head girl and chair of the school parliament, Paula Schrader helped to organise the visit. She said: St James encourages student voice and strives to reflect and educate students in the country’s current democratic system, which is why I felt so passionately about helping to organise MP Ben Bradshaw to visit our school and launch our school parliament.”

Year 7 student MP, Jack Murch: said: “It was a great experience and I really enjoyed meeting an MP who was so happy to answer our questions.”

As part of this initiative, student prefects undertook external leadership training in which they learnt how to organise an event. Following this they planned a charity event and raised £752 for the mental health charity Mind.

The school parliament scheme also aims to:

  • Promote what it means to be a good and productive citizen and member of a community, so that students leave school as good people
  • Develop an understanding of applications, interviews, presentations and democracy
  • Build students cultural capital, understanding of democracy and future prospects through enhanced CV’s and skills.

Holly Kirkbride, Assistant Headteacher at St James School, who helped facilitate the day, said: “It is essential that we develop student voice systems to allow all students to contribute positively to their communities. Our regular meetings model to students how to instigate change through democracy and leadership skills, lessons which will allow them to develop into productive members of society in the future.”

Find out more about St James School