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* Democracy Visit

The week before our school Council and Children’s Commissioner elections Mark Drakeford AM came in to tell us all about the importance of democracy and being an elected representative.

He told us about the National Assembly for Wales at the Senedd where they make decisions on lots of issues such as Health, Education, Roads, Museums. Mark said he was one of 60 Assembly Members from all over Wales. He took over the job from former First Minister Rhodri Morgan who he used to work for. Rhodri Morgan was also the MP for Cardiff West before Kevin Brennan took over.

In May some of the children had visited the local polling station during the elections for the National Assembly for Wales during which Mark was elected to represent the people of Cardiff West. They had a few ideas about how to run the elections this year.

Next week we are celebrating World Democracy Day by holding our elections for our School Council and Childrens Commissioner Ambassadors. Mark told us that

“We are very lucky in the UK to get to choose who will govern us. Around the world this summer you would have seen lots of people on the TV news trying hard to get democracy in their countries.

I saw some of the Save the Children Ambassadors from Millbank when they visited the Senedd and they showed us the animation they made. They talked about all the work that they had done on Smoking and wanting to grow up in a safe environment.

Your school Council is a bit like the National Assembly for Wales in that they will be making decisions on lots of things that affect your everyday life at school. It is important that you vote to get the right people to do the best job possible.

I think the best ways to choose who you should vote for School Council is to consider who can:-
1.) LISTEN. Someone who will listen to what the rest of the class says.
2.) THINK. You need someone who can think about what to do about any problems.
3.) HELP. You need them to help make decisions at all the meetings with others to try and sort any issues you have.
4.) REPORT BACK. You need someone who will explain what is happening to you about the problems.
5.) LISTEN AGAIN. If you do not agree with the decisions they are making for you, they need to be able to listen to you on that too so they can make the best decisions.

Next week when you have your elections it will be World Democracy Day and people all around the world will be celebrating will be celebrating. It is really important that you do your part and take part in elections."

He then asked if the children had any questions that they wanted to ask.

Q:  WHY DID YOU WANT TO BE AN ASSEMBLY MEMBER?
I used to work in Ely area and I heard lots about all the problems ordinary people had every day. I wanted to help them and one of the ways of doing that was to stand for election

Q: HOW LONG HAVE YOU WORKED AT THE ASSEMBLY?
I have worked at the Assembly for many years in Rhodri Morgan’s office and so knew a lot of the work that was needed. But I have only been the member since the elections in May. It is a job that you feel very lucky to have, you have a long day with lots of hard work but you do feel lucky.

Q: WHAT DO YOU HAVE TO DO TO BE AN AM?
Just like you with the school Council next week you have to win an election and to do that you have to put your name forward and then convince people to vote for you because you will do a good job. For me I had to knock on a lot of doors and speak to people like your parents explaining what I wanted to do and listen to what they wanted.

Q: IS IT A JOB YOU REALLY WANTED TO DO?
Yes, it really is my dream job.

Q: WHAT TIME DO YOU START WORK?
I normally get to work just before 8 so I have a little time to settle down before the phones start ringing and it gets very busy.

Q: WHY IS THERE ONLY ONE REPRESENTATIVE?
If there are too many people then it might be too difficult to make decisions. The people who set up the Welsh Assembly thought that 60 people was just the right number of representatives to have to represent all of Wales. (FUN FACTS: Did you know that the largest Parliament is National People’s Congress of China with 3,000 members and the smallest is the Senate of Saint Lucia which has only 11 members)

Q: DO YOU HAVE A PARTNER TO WORK WITH? 
Yes I work quite closely with Kevin Brennan your MP -who told me to say ‘hi’ to all of you today. He works in the UK parliament at Westminster to represent the views of Cardiff West there.

Miss Allen thanked Mark for coming in and seeing us. "We are sure that the children understand a bit more about the importance of being an elected representative and the job itself." Of course once the elections are over that does not mean we stop being involved or having a say in in the school. We always want your ideas or suggestions as to how we can be better.

Miss Allen showed the Assembly a brochure that had arrived about the Grand School Council Event which included lots of pictures of our School Council andAmbassadors. It had been sent to every school in Cardiff. Miss Allen also asked if we would design a poster over the weekend with all the qualities needed to be a good School Council representative. We put a small piece in our weekly parents newsletter so that they too would know about the elections next week.

Erin y6 said “I think it was very kind of Mark to come in and share all of that with us!”


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