A Level Government and Politics students from Tasker Milward and Sir Thomas Picton schools weighed into the debate on lowering the voting age last week in a National Assembly for Wales workshop.
After learning about the history of devolution, the implications of the Wales Act (2017) and taking part in a committee scrutiny activity, students engaged in a vigorous debate over whether 16 year olds should be given the right to vote in Assembly elections.
As young people with a natural interest in politics, it came as little surprise when all students without exception voted to lower the voting age to 16.
“Young people are intelligent enough to vote,” said 17 year old Alex. “And I think they would take it seriously and vote properly.”
One advantage of lowering the voting age that was flagged up by several students was that it would increase political turnout and, as mentioned by Eleri, “give a wider representation of views in Wales.”
Much was said, however, about the need to accompany this with better political education in schools.
“I feel the voting age should be lowered to 16,” said 17 year old Josh – “as long as there is a GCSE in Politics, which you should have to pass before you can vote.”
All recognised that political decisions (Brexit was flagged as a key example) could have huge implications for their own lives.
“These things affect us the most, as it’s our future,” explained Tempany, also aged 17. “And at the moment we are not represented. We deserve to have a choice, as the majority of our age group are politically aware.”
During the session students were also asked to come up with their own ideas for new laws in Wales. Unsurprisingly, lowering the voting age to 16 for Assembly elections came top of the list. Other ideas included bringing in a wage cap for jobs in the public sector, replacing the Welsh Baccalaureate with a Life Skills course and a law that would require local authorities to collect all household waste once a week.
If you teach A Level Government and Politics and would be interested in a workshop at your school, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org