Arrow Vale students blog on participation and democracy

On Monday 1st February, 28 students from Arrow Vale RSA Academy visited the RSA after having received a workshop on participation and democracy at the Houses of Parliament. While year 9 and 10 students toured the RSA archives and practised their debating skills, a group of 10 sixth form student leaders got stuck into blogging for our website. The students paired themselves up and were charged with the task of reflecting on their visit to parliament and, after watching the new RSA short, thinking about the government’s approach to participation and democracy. Below are extracts from the blogs the students wrote.

“Hints for Davie C?

After a morning of touring the Houses of Parliament and learning what it takes for the government to work, we’ve noticed many differences between what the RSA stand for and what the government offers. The government should look to using creativity and the individual’s innovation. This will allow more of people’s choice within the “democratic” society.

Our hierarchy in the government leads us to miss out on some of the most vital people in our society – including those without a voice to speak. The structure of the RSA allows them to be an organised community where people are able to speak equally, be given the opportunity and take pride in the changes they are influencing.”

Do our MPs really represent us?

No. Certainly not young people. Students of our age (under 18) have strong ideas and still no vote. We generally are progressive and want to shape the world for the future that we will eventually be living in. The younger generation has real opinions about societal changes like immigration, university prices and gay marriage that need to be heard. We need an MP to bridge the gap between us and the people that have the power to enact positive change. We recently met our MP and were underwhelmed by her commitment to make our community’s opinions known.”

“Party Poopin’ Parliament

It is a nice thought that in a democratic society the chief responsibilities of an MP should be to represent the people. This means that an MP should submit petitions on behalf of their constituents and respond to queries emailed by concerned individuals within her constituency to enforce the voice of the people on the government. Without such enforcement, alongside the use of party whips to ensure MP’s vote the way a party leader should like them to vote, our Government is little more than a dictatorship more concerned with bombing Syria and cutting tax credits than ensuring the safety of local hospitals from austerity measures and supporting young doctors.”

Why not get us involved?

We are two students from RSA academy Arrow Vale who have visited the houses of parliament today and one question that came to mind is; why do we have parliament?

We are beginning to have our own opinions on politics and the government but are not able act upon them, which is a far cry from the RSA – they allow individuals our age to have a say in what we want for our education and opportunities within the RSA. This is something that I feel is much more effective as it will allow a passion for these topics to be built which will bring forward more individuals to be involved from all backgrounds that will give a better view of all areas of Britain.

So if we have anything to say to David Cameron it would be; follow the RSA, get us involved.”

Blogs by Matt Chandler, Ruth Simpson, Xena Hanley, Alex Fryer, Toby Major-Seager, Ben Adams, Chad Whitehouse, Emily Cody, Louis Mertens and Rochelle Cook.