Cover image: General Elections UK

General Elections UK

Last year a 'snap election' occurred in the UK, with dramatic results. Elections are great opportunities to get pupils exploring issues of voting and democracy. Here we provide links to useful resources and teaching ideas. Twelve of the UK's leading citizenship education organisations came together to share their resources using the hashtag #GEeducate. Visit the Politics Project General Election 2017 web page to download lesson plans, videos and voter registration toolkits which are still relevant in educating young people about how elections work. The Parliament UK website teaching resources section has some excellent resources for all ages, including quizzes and lesson plans on voting and representation. There's also a section specifically about general elections, including this video which takes 60 seconds to explain how a general election works.

Young voters

As the UK voting age is 18, it's unlikely that your students will be able to vote yet. How do they feel about that? Do they feel ready to vote? Do think the voting age should be lowered? Or do they still feel too young, too uninformed, or simply not interested? The Citizenship Foundation website has a section to support teachers on debating the topic of lowering the voting age in class. And the following websites can help young people to engage with this and other key issues. Bite the Ballot - aims to empower young citizens to lead the change that they want to see within society. The League of young voters UK was formed in 2014 to address the challenge that not enough young people are registering and voting in the UK. This 2½-minute clip explains. Tell your students about the UK Youth Parliament, which provides opportunities for 11-18 year olds to use their elected voice to bring about social change through meaningful representation and campaigning. Do you know what your MP does? They Work for You is a website where you can find out who your MP is, how they have voted on different issues, and what they have been doing on behalf of their constituents.

Registering to vote

If your students are old enough to vote, you can encourage them to register and continue to educate themselves on key issues and current affairs. Register to vote here: How many people registered to vote? According to this BBC News article, on the day this 'snap election' was declared, 147,000 people registered online and 3,364 paper forms were submitted. This was the biggest total recorded for a single day since the EU referendum campaign in 2016, with young people being the highest age-group registering. Does your vote count? Well, in over half of the constituencies at the 2015 UK general election, the number of non-voters exceeded the number of people who voted for the winning party. BBC News: How non-voters can change the outcome of an election.

Mock elections

Running a mock election at school is a great way for students to learn about the how democratic process operates and explore the issues they think are the most important. The Guardian Teacher Network has a useful guide: How to set up a mock general election in your school. Parliament UK has an election toolkit and a whiteboard resource. All the content on the Voting Counts website is created by young adults and students, and aims to provide unbiased information in simple language. It includes a section comparing the different political parties which students could use to research the issues. To further explore the stances taken on different issues by different political parties, students could try out the ISideWith political quiz - with each question they have the option to learn more about each issue. The ISideWith website is not affiliated to any party; it aims to use information and data to educate voters about different parties' policies. For more resources to support teaching about voting and democracy, browse through the teaching resources listed on the Global Dimension database under the topic of ‘Democracy’.