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Politics Journalist of the Year Aged 14-18: Winner

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Stokie Teens on Politics

Harrison, Discovery Academy, UK

Teenagers don’t matter when it comes to politics, everyone knows that! But is that necessarily the truth? The attitudes of teenagers can give us a relatively accurate glimpse into society’s politics in a few decades. Young people will be living with the consequences of our upcoming general election for the longest, their voices deserve to be heard. Teenagers are the next generation of voters, that’s why I asked students from the Discovery Academy in Stoke-on-Trent about their opinions on two controversial topics, taxes and Brexit, but also about their knowledge of our country’s political system.

The responses from this group of year 10 students show that our education system is failing to teach young people about their country and the politics that control it. None could name their constituency, and only 8% could name their local MP. However, the future seems leftist as many students say they would vote for Labour, no students would vote for either the Conservatives or the Brexit Party, unfortunately 42% of students said they didn’t understand what the different political parties stood for, it is a travesty that the young people of today are being blinded to the options they have for their voting futures. 83% of students say they would have voted to remain in the European Union in the 2016 referendum.

Only a third of the students fully understood mortgages, payslips and taxes. All students want this to be taught in school, but they are split on whether in PSHE or in maths. 92% of students want politics to be taught in school, because only 17% understand what the two Houses of Parliament do and how they are different to each other.

A shocking 92% of students think that the views of young people are not represented in politics. The students, however, do believe that the government is doing a 5.67/10 job of running the country! Woefully, students say that their excitement levels to be of age to vote in 5.5/10. I find this regrettable, as voting can be such an exciting turning point in a person’s life, people should be enthusiastic to express their opinions and vote for the way the country will be run.

Politics is vastly unknown by the majority of the population, and this leads to elections that don’t truly reflect the values of a nation. Many are simply unaware of the existence of third parties – for most elections are a battle between Labour and the Conservatives, but they’re not! If we teach politics in school, I firmly believe that the running of the country will be smoother, elections fairer, politicians more accountable, and the United Kingdom a better place to live. Wars or rebellions can stem from a lack of education around politics. We must not devolve into that. Instead we must teach our children better so that the future is brighter.

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