Pupils from East Cambridgeshire school experience local democracy in action at district’s council offices

Pupils at an East Cambridgeshire primary school got a taste of local democracy after they visited th

Pupils at an East Cambridgeshire primary school got a taste of local democracy after they visited their district’s council offices. Picture: MIKE ROUSE - Credit: MIKE ROUSE

Pupils at an East Cambridgeshire primary school got to experience local democracy in action when they visited the district council offices this week.

Students from the Shade Primary School in Soham were invited by councillor Mark Goldsack to attend a presentation and mock meeting in the chamber on Monday (February 4).

The chamber was set up in a horseshoe formation to replicate a usual council meeting. Each of the students also had name badges with ‘councillor’ as well as microphones.

Councillor Mark Goldsack said: “It was an excellent afternoon of learning from both sides.”

“It’s been eye-opening to see the views of the students during the mock meeting and it was exciting to see how our future generation responded to being in the meeting and having their views heard.

“I look forward to seeing this progress and I’d love to see other schools take part in local democracy visits.”

The two-hour visit comprised of a ten-minute presentation with information on the workings of the combined authority, county, district and parish councils.

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This was followed by councillors from the different tiers of local government within East Cambridgeshire, including the Vice-Chairman of the district council, Cllr Lis Every, and the Mayor of Ely, Cllr Mike Rouse talking to the students about what their roles entail.

Cllr Rouse said: “Really enjoyed meeting the school council. They were finding out about how council’s work and then debating issues of traffic around the Shade school.

“What lovely children and what intelligent questions! Thank you councillors Goldsack and Every for involving me as Mayor of Ely.

“Thank you the officers of East Cambs for organisation and most of all thank you the Shade school for your enthusiasm and interest.”

The visit finished with a mock council meeting discussing local issues, with the children acting as councillors on full council where they asked questions, discussed, proposed and voted on a preferred option.

Cllr Every, said: “It was fantastic to see the students so engaged in the meeting conversation.

“Visits like this are vital for students who might not fully understand what our councils do and this enables them to see how they can be a part of it when they’re older.”

Jane Segust, headteacher, said: “It was a great opportunity for our students to get first-hand experience of what a typical council meeting would entail.

“The students had a fantastic time and we appreciate all the help from the councillors for teaching them all about their roles within the council.”