Tavistock College has always been at the forefront of teaching our students about democracy, with political speed dating and regular visits from local peers and MPs. The college has just organised a student led mock election, based on the principles of the actual electoral process, to teach students how we elect our representatives and what the different political parties stand for.

The college fielded 5 sixth form students, representing the 5 main political parties that are standing in the constituency of West Devon and Torridge (Conservative, Green, Labour, Liberal Democrat and UKIP). An independence party, for Devon Independence, was introduced to show students what it would be like to live in an area where a vote for a national party was an option. These candidates campaigned on their selected party’s manifesto and spoke to all year groups in assemblies and at hustings during lunchtimes. We also organised an opinion poll of students on the Friday before the actual election – which showed the Green party easily leading the field. As in the real general election, however, the opinion polls did not reflect the actual result!

On the day, 7th May, about 600 students voted at separate year group polling stations. At the end of lunch, the counting began with teams of sixth formers and staff working feverishly against the clock to tally up the votes, with A level maths students working out the percentages from the data. The result, announced by the returning officer for Tavistock College, Mrs Salmon, was a win for the Liberal Democrat candidate, Bert Rodgers. All the candidates – Jazz Rice, Freya Chambers, Fen Eastaugh, Lily Hillson and Laurie Church, as well as Bert – were extremely impressive and I am confident that they could all take up a political career should they wish!

Helen Harris