Behaving exactly like the Commons people do

11th May 2001 at 01:00
A general election is looming but imagine it through the eyes and ears of a junior school child - adults arguing on television; heated discussions at home about jobs, hospitals, schools and the economy; whatever that is. They know it leads to everyone voting on one day, and with any luck, a day off school if it's used as a polling station. But like many of us they must wonder what is really going on. Lucy Stimpson shows how to turn your classroom into a real debating chamber.

THE OPPOSITION

The Opposition's job is to scrutinise policies put forward by the Government.

Your Opposition will oppose the Government's idea. A main spokesman will put forward up to five points against it. As with the Government the rest of the Opposition can support their spokesman's points.

SPEAKER'S CHAIR

The Speaker must remain impartial during debate. Their job is to maintain order - this is Government not the playground. The child chosen to b the Speaker must be strong-minded and authoritative.Alternatively this could be the teacher.

GOVERNMENT

The Government puts forward laws (the rules and policies that run our country). The Government chooses a spokesman to introduce a debatable issue with up to five main points in support. The Government has an even number of people to the Opposition. After the Opposition has replied, the rest of the Government can support their viewpoint via the Speaker.

THE INDEPENDENTS

This is the rest of the class. They are the undecideds and can be convinced by either side's arguments to vote one way or another.

THE VOTE

Once the points have been raised the chair can invite questions from the undecideds. When there are no more questions to either panel the chair puts forward a vote from the undecideds who go to the 'no' door or the 'yes' door. Two children count the votes and the motion is either defeated or carried.


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