Right now, more people can vote in Scotland and Wales than ever before. 16 and 17 year olds can vote in some elections and it doesn’t matter where they were born or what their nationality is, as long as they are a resident of Scotland or Wales.
Voting and politics can seem confusing. There can be a lot of unclear and old-fashioned words and explanations and it’s easy for young people to feel that voting just isn’t for them.
We want to show young people that politics impacts everything around them. From how long young people stay in education, to the rules of renting, from 5G availability, to how often bins are collected.
To make a change in their communities, they need to do their bit for democracy. One way to get involved is by voting in elections, so you can help to choose who represents you and makes decisions on your behalf.
Discussing these topics, and understanding options from aged 16, can help a young person become an engaged voter for years to come. By using our resources, we want young people in Scotland and Wales to feel confident to take part in upcoming elections in their area and know that their vote matters.
Talking about politics
Politics can sometimes be difficult to talk about. It can feel especially difficult if you’re facilitating young people to talk about these topics. It’s easy to avoid talking about voting at all, but the more discussion there is, the more engaged your young people will become.
We have designed these resources to reflect our organisation’s values of impartiality and independence. They do not encourage young people to think a certain way. We would encourage you to approach the delivery of sessions in the same way.
Discussion and debate amongst your young people should be encouraged – this is politics in action. The more we talk about big issues, the more we can learn and the greater the impact we can make.
However, we would suggest that you, as an educator, do not express your own views in these discussions. Instead, you could ask hypothetical ‘what about this…?’ questions to fuel discussion, but be mindful that this should be balanced.
Talking about politics can ignite passion in young people, which is great. However, it is important to always be respectful of other views and this should be emphasised at the start of your sessions. Your young people may think differently to each other but it is very important that language is appropriate and that everyone listens and continues to respect each other.
At the end of your sessions, encourage your young people to pass on what they’ve learned to their friends and family so they can inspire as many people as possible to get involved and know that their vote matters.