Politics is brought to life for LGGS pupils

The students with Nick Clegg.
The students with Nick Clegg.

The politics of the European Union were brought to life for students from Lancaster Girls’ Grammar School when they took part in a Mock Council of the European Union in London.

Thirty secondary schools and colleges from across England gathered in the Cabinet Office in London to debate and make decisions on youth unemployment and air quality.

The event was organised by the British Council and the European Commission as part of the Comenius programme.

Each school represented one of the 28 EU Member States, the European Commission or the Secretariat-General of the Council. LGGS represented Finland.

LGGS student Rachel Towers said: I didn’t really know a lot about how the EU worked before the day, so it was fascinating to experience first hand the procedures and rules.

“Hearing each country’s perspective on policy was also eye opening and I definitely understand now why political process could take so long: who would have thought that diesel cars vs. electric cars would be so controversial?

“Representing Finland was certainly a worthwhile experience and taking a different perspective than my own country made the day all the more rewarding for me, as I learned about alternative viewpoints and had to consider a whole different set of variables; for example, geography and economy were vital in understanding why the country took different stances.”

Kate Whitehouse, head of modern foreign languages, said: “We were delighted that our application for this event was successful and it proved a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for two of our pupils to really experience the workings of a European Council in a prestigious location.

“It was a daunting task and they rose to the challenge brilliantly, having researched independently Finland’s slant on the key issues for debate and using their knowledge to network with other country’s representatives to try to come to agreements.

“It gave all the pupils an insight into the difficulties in agreeing on policies which will be in the best interests of all 28 countries, and was a fantastic way to heighten young peoples’ awareness of the importance of the European Comission and global politics”.

Deputy prime minister Nick Clegg welcomed the students and chaired the start of the session on youth employment. He said: “It’s important to get students and young people talking about the issues that have an impact on their lives; from the jobs opportunities they have to the quality of air they breathe, their voice and contribution matters.”