Headington’s Mock Election 2019

The Liberal Democrats were the big winners in Headington School’s mock election after a hard-fought campaign by students.

Headington regularly runs parallel elections alongside real-world polls to support engagement in the political process. Six girls took on the mantle of a different political party (representing Conservative, Labour, Liberal Democrat, Brexit, Green and Independent candidates) and researched their selected party’s policies before producing campaign videos, debating, holding hustings and answering questions from girls and staff.

A polling stations was set up in the School’s Lea Library on Thursday 12th December and girls and staff volunteered to issue ballot papers and count votes. They were also able to request a postal vote in advance to ensure maximum participation.

Among the first casting her vote was Headmistress Caroline Jordan. She said: “It’s been a really interesting and inspiring debate within school and fantastic to see so many of our students really engaged.

Turnout was higher than in the general population, with 70.2 per cent of those eligible to vote electing to do so.

When the votes were counted, the Liberal Democrats, represented by Sophie, L6, were the clear winners, with 39 per cent of the vote. The Conservative Party, represented by Millie, L6, polled 15 per cent of the vote while Labour, represented by Issy, was pushed into fifth place with just six per cent of the vote. The Green Party, represented by Maia, U5, and Independent candidate Georgie each received a vote share of 11 per cent while the Brexit Party, represented by Lucy, had to make do with less than one per cent of the vote.

Lucy, L6, said she had found the experience “really interesting”. She said: “I originally did it as an exercise to see how my views could change and I found it surprising how quickly I have come to understand different points of view and how they all have flaws.

“Politics isn’t as linear as I thought.”

Georgie, U5, said being the ‘joke’ candidate had proved particularly challenging. She said: “Some of the policies I’ve had to make up on the spot and it’s quite hard to think of something that’s funny to get a reaction.

“I’ve definitely learned more during this process – I knew roughly what each party stood for but having heard them speak has taught me quite a lot.”

One student who wanted to make her vote count in this election was Hannah, U6, who missed out on being eligible to vote in the General Election by just four days.

Hannah said she was “so angry” not to be able to vote for real but added: “I’ve made an effort and watched some of the leaders’ debates. I’ve been really impressed by all the candidates in school have done, the debate, the videos, and that’s on top of their school work.”

As well as a series of activities led by the candidates in school, three parliamentary candidates for Oxford East and for Oxford West and Abingdon also came to Headington to give a short speech and answer questions.

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