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Pupils get special insight into local democracy in Cardiff

Credit: Cardiff Council

Pupils from a city primary school were given a special insight into local democracy in Cardiff on a visit to County Hall.

As part of Local Democracy Week last week, children from Howardian Primary’s Years Three to Six met the city’s First Citizen and one of the council’s Cabinet Members to help broaden their knowledge of how local democracy works.

The pupils were invited to County Hall after Howardian teacher, Nia Court, signed up to the Democracy Ambassador Programme, organised by the Council’s Electoral Services team. The programme supports primary and secondary schools in the city to learn more about local democracy by enlisting teachers to sign up to as Democracy Ambassadors.

Teachers who become Ambassadors have access toa wide range of resources and ideas to engage pupils and students, Continued Professional Development training and ongoing support Electoral Services.

No strangers to democracy themselves, the children, who are members of Howardian’s own school council ‘Y Senedd’, learned about voting and how election counts work, including taking part in their own mini-ballot, and how the Council makes decisions during their visit.

The Lord Mayor, Cllr Bablin Molik, met the children to explain her role while Cllr Julie Sangani, Cabinet Member for Tackling Poverty, Equality and Public Health (Public Health & Equalities)spoke about what’s involved in her role as a ward member in the city.

The visitors were invited to take their seats in the Council chamber, trying out the electronic voting system used by members during Full Council meetings, and hearing how hybrid meetings work with some members attending the chamber and others joining remotely.

At the end of the visit, each member of the young Senedd was presented with a certificate  by the Lord Mayor commemorating their participation in the event.

Lord Mayor of Cardiff, Cllr Bablin Molik said: “It was a pleasure to welcome Howardian to County Hall to help increase their understanding of local democracy and how they can get involved. The children were really engaged with the activities that had been organised for them and asked some very intelligent questions. Who knows, maybe we have had a future Lord Mayor or Council leader in our midst.”

Cllr Sangani, said: “It’s so important to engage children with local democracy from an early age, like the fantastic Senedd from Howardian we met at this visit. Young people can be very disenfranchised from democracy and voting, so we hope by providing opportunities like this where the children have a chance to meet elected members,  learn how the Council works and how decisions that affect them, their friends and their families are made, it will mean they grow  up engaged and eager to be involved in issues that matter to them.

Howardian teacher and Democracy Ambassadors, Nia Court, said: “This opportunity has been momentous for our pupils at Howardian Primary. Our ‘Senedd’ is at the heart of our school and we are proud of the role they play in helping to improve our school through pupil voice.

“This experience has given our ‘School Senedd’ the opportunity to learn about how the world works and has inspired them to use the same principles in our school environment. We feel extremely lucky to have been included in this pilot project and cannot wait for future involvement. 

“It has been brilliant to watch our children learn more about how the world works through the excellent ‘Democracy Ambassador Programme’ and feel confident that we are helping to create pupils who are healthy confident individuals that are ethically informed about the world in which they live.”

Year 3 pupil Frank, aged 8, said: “My favourite part was being in the chamber.”

Cerrys, Year 3, age 7 said: “I liked pretending to vote.”