I was aghast to read of the attitude of Helen Williamson, the headteacher of Billingshurst Primary School, to the proposed use of one of the school halls as a polling station on 7th May (‘Anger as Billingshurst school ‘forced’ to be polling station’).
We are constantly being told that young people are becoming disengaged with politics and how our institutions of state are run. This is hardly surprising if our headteachers are teaching our children that helping to facilitate the democratic process is an inconvenience which needs to be resisted. The accompanying picture says it all, a class of unhappy children who now see the whole process of electing our representatives as something bad.
Entrusted with the future citizens of our country as she is, would it have been too much trouble to have embraced the fact that their school was going to play a part in this process? Could the children not have been enthused about how important this is?
Oh, how the story could have been so different. The headline could have read ‘Children prepare to play their part in the democratic process’.
Maybe the school could have held its own elections amongst the children, different views could have been explored and challenged and the whole school given a ‘buzz’ leading up to polling day.
Instead the children are now witness to a dispute where the democratic process itself is seen as something to be resisted.
In my view the governors of the school should take Miss Williamson to task on this, what would Sir Michael Wilshaw say about such an attitude?
For all she knows one of the children in her care may be a potential future leader of our country. One thing is certain however, her approach will now have played its small part in helping quash any such aspirations the children may have had.