Leader magazineASCL - Association of School and College Leaders

Writing for the future of politics

people stood on staircase

The expenses scandal, cynicism and apathy among the public, media criticism and the failure of some politicians to engage with the next generation make it a real challenge to get young people to understand the value engaging with the political process.

But it is precisely because of these issues that schools' and colleges' role in teaching about active and responsible citizenship is so important. The challenge is to find ways to channel students' natural enthusiasm and give them a means to voice their own opinions.

With this in mind, the Parliamentary Press Gallery (the body for parliamentary and political journalists in Westminster), supported by ASCL, the Parliamentary Education Service and political communications company Dods, is now launching their sixth annual writing competition.

The competition winners will have the opportunity to meet leading parliamentary journalists and politicians, to voice their concerns and see Westminster at work. Hundreds of schools across the UK have already had the opportunity to take part.

This year, the Write Now competition is asking participants to think ahead to the next general election and decide what policy proposals should be put forward by the main political parties. Those in years 10-11 (S3-4 in Scotland) are tasked with imagining that they are a policy adviser for one of the leading political parties. Students are asked to put forward three policy priorities for their party and say why they are integral to an election manifesto.

Participants in the older group, years 12-13 (S5-6), must also assess how the effects of the economic recession would affect their manifesto promises. And they can consider how an incoming government might balance its priorities to avoid tax increases or cuts in public spending.

Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families Ed Balls said: "Young people are the future. Their ideas matter."

Conservative Party leader David Cameron said: "It's a great way to encourage a new generation to learn more about Parliament and the political process."

Leader of the Liberal Democrats Nick Clegg added: "Too often young people feel alienated and excluded from politics. This competition is a great showcase of their wealth of talent."

All involved in this competition hope that young people can learn more about the hard choices, competing priorities and the difficult arguments that politicians of all parties have to grapple with on a daily basis.

There has never been such a pressing time to connect with the next generation of policy shapers, and the Write Now Parliamentary Press Gallery writing competition offers schools this opportunity.

  • For further information on how to take part visit www.writenow.org.uk The closing date for entries will be in November.

© 2017 Association of School and College Leaders