Highlights from Political Awareness Week and future plans

Highlights from Political Awareness Week

On Monday we kick started the week with the theme of identity politics, in the morning during form time we did a very interesting assembly detailing everything from what we were going to do and why. This was followed by a politics quiz at lunch which was very fun and informative, all years took part through Zoom. Every year had their own quiz, with different questions targeted towards their knowledge. Then in the afternoon we had a very intriguing presentation on race and its role in politics, delivered by the distinguished Dean Barbara Krauthamer of Massachusetts University, College of Humanities and Fine Arts. This talk was very informative, it linked in well with the theme of identity politics, the Zoom went well and the questions at the end showed that students put a lot of thought into the talk.

On Tuesday the theme was gender and sexuality, for this day we had a talk delivered by a leading academic, Dr Elliot Evans, about LGBTQ+ and its increasing importance within politics today. The event went very smoothly and was followed by questions that went deeper into some of the points raised by Dr Evans. We were very lucky to have this talk to raise awareness of how politics has progressed over time and is now accessible to all, though there are still improvements that can be made.

On Wednesday the theme was British politics, we started the day with a very thought-provoking activity, which was “What would you ask the PM at the PM’s questions?” We received many good responses from all years. These questions were put to a panel of politicians at KES ‘Question Time’, eliciting a thought-provoking debate by the panel of politicians in the evening. This event was one of the highlights of the week, the panel consisted of Mayor Andy Street, MP Saqib Bhatti, MP Preet Gill and Councillor Matt Bennett. Not only that, but during lunchtime, Mr Coverdale delivered a brilliant talk on British Politics!

On Thursday the theme was geopolitics, at lunchtime we held a teacher vs students debate on the controversial topic of whether the Iraq war was justified, it was extremely exciting to see our teachers argue about such an inflammatory topic, but naturally, the winners were the MUN boys! This was a fun event and we had a good turnout from the school. Even through Zoom the debate still ran well with no hiccups. This was followed by our final speaker, Robert Whalley on the Civil Service. This was a great way to end the week of talks, being a detailed talk delivered by an expert, whom we were lucky to have. 

On Friday we ended the week with a form time activity for students to take the political compass test and then discuss the results and politics as well. This was a good way to end the week and see how the views of the pupils had changed over the course of it, we hope that this will have produced a lasting impact on all those who took part.

For more details about what happened during the week we will be releasing a magazine about, which will include articles about all the talks and activities.

Jamie Gatcha

Our vision

What is our vision post-event? We want to make something clear. Political Awareness Week is not the end of the road. We did not go home today thinking ‘what a journey’. Rather we thought ‘this journey is only just beginning’. 

We set out to raise Political Awareness, and we have plans to continue this long into the future. The first legacy of our week is the emergence of a KES Politics Society. Sure, History Society and the Speaker Series are wonderful ventures, but Politics Society is arguably the most important KES Society to date. We will look to bring through a culture of political engagement, inside and beyond the walls of our great school. This will set up our pupils to be more informed and educated when making the decisions which will later shape our lives.

What can we look forward to? If I can promise you one thing, it is that your belief that the events in Political Awareness Week cannot be topped will be disproven. In store, we plan to hold weekly meetings where we stimulate ideas, debates and discussion. Mixed in with this, we will invite external speakers on a regular basis, to fill us in on the more niche aspects of this crucial subject. We will look for Politics to integrate into KES life. We’ll have a noticeboard, a blog, social media channels and will provide updates on these in assemblies so you don’t miss a beat. 

In addition, we will stage major events. Termly, we will seek to host mock mayoral debates, more formal debating tournaments, quizzes, mock school elections and of course, more Political Awareness Weeks. 

Let’s continue to work together into the future. Your turnout in Political Awareness Week 1 was commendable, and we are endlessly grateful. But we must continue to cooperate. If we get going with our initiatives, the politics culture at KES will explode, and we will all be in a far stronger position to make the key decisions down the road. Most importantly, there will be a lot of fun along the way. 

Let’s keep it up, and ensure the future of our democracy and political stability is safe in our hands. 

Will Thomas

Author: Jamie Gatcha and Will Thomas