Remain in Europe - that’s the view of Neale Wade Academy students in March in their own elections

Neale Wade EU hustings with candidates L to R Morgan Chappell, Alfie Cook and Christopher Harvey-Haw

Neale Wade EU hustings with candidates L to R Morgan Chappell, Alfie Cook and Christopher Harvey-Hawes with head of sixth form Dr Carole Spibe - Credit: Archant

Stay in Europe - that was the decision of sixth formers at the Neale Wade Academy in March who held their own European elections at school.

More than half voted to remain with around one in three (30 per cent) electing to leave.

A total of 12 per cent of students abstained.

Dr Carole Spibey, head of sixth form, said: To observe the students becoming so engaged with the whole election process was really exciting.

“The students displayed enthusiasm, maturity and tolerance in listening to each other’s views during discussions in form and in general conversation.

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“It will be interesting to find out whether the results of our vote are reflected in the actual result.”

Harry Stevens, senior head boy at Neale-Wade, said those under 18 should also have the opportunity to have their say.

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“I believe that 16 and 17 year olds should be allowed to vote in such an important decision. I was really glad that we were given the opportunity to have our say and participate.”

Reflecting on the outcome of the vote, Year 12 student Georgia Gregory said she had expected less support for leaving the EU.

“I really enjoyed the experience and it made me feel part of something that is really important.

“I was surprised at the result as I expected even more young people to vote to remain. It was a great idea as we really got involved with the debate.”

Year 12 student, Brodie Lyon, echoed the view that the referendum vote should be open to 16-18 year olds.

“This gave us a great opportunity to participate in politics,” said Brodie.

“The whole process was really interesting and I was a little surprised about the result as I thought more would vote to leave.

“The discussions have shown that we have the knowledge and interest to vote in the actual referendum and I really think that should have been allowed.”

In an effort to mimic the referendum itself as closely as possible, students had to have first registered to vote before they could receive their ballot paper.

The polling station opened for around seven hours following an intense and articulate debate last month, in which three students put forward their views on the topic in front of their peers.

Year 12 student, Morgan Chappell, spoke for the EU, Alfie Cook of Year 13 spoke against it, with Christopher Harvey-Hawes, also of Year 13, arguing that there should not be a referendum at all as the topic is too complex for the general public.

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