276 elected members of UK Youth Parliament (aged 11-18) debated the top issues affecting young people across the country today, live in the House of Commons Chamber. Chaired by the Speaker of the House of Commons, Rt Hon John Bercow MP, Members of Youth Parliament voted to campaign on votes at 16 and a curriculum for life in 2017.
112,687 young people across the UK voted to lower the voting age to 16 as their top priority in the recent Make Your Mark ballot, with 978,216 votes.
Votes at 16 has been a campaign for the UK Youth Parliament for several years and there were passionate speeches for the campaign in the House of Commons Chamber today. Speaking on the topic of lowering the voting age to 16, Victor Sarpong, aged 15, Member of Youth Parliament for Member of Youth Parliament for Havering, said: “Votes at 16 has been on the agenda for a long time and it’s time young people aged 17 and 18 were given the vote in every part of the UK. Next year, we will continue to push for votes at 16 in all elections and referendums, so that 1.5million young people can rightfully have their say!”
Curriculum for Life was chosen as the priority campaign for England. Previously the UK Youth Parliament has campaigned on the topic and Members of Youth Parliament have engaged with a Youth Select Committee inquiry-a British Youth Council initiative, delivered in partnership with Parliament. Lili Donlon-Mansbridge, aged 17, Member of Youth Parliament for Poole, said: “UK Youth Parliament is committed to pursuing a curriculum that prepares young people for life. We believe that the place of citizenship education and PSHE in the curriculum should be radically overhauled and next year Members of Youth Parliament will be campaigning to ensure this remains a priority”
Jonathan Baggaley, Chief Executive, PSHE Association, said: “Young people are struggling with the pressures and anxieties of today’s world. With this vote they are telling us they want schools to prepare them to meet these challenges through PSHE education and citizenship education.
The fact that this is a continuing priority for the UK Youth Parliament tells us once again that not enough has been done to improve the status of PSHE education in schools.
We hope that the Government listens to these young people today and strengthens the status of PSHE education in all schools for the good of our young people, and our society. We look forward to supporting the UK Youth Parliament and British Youth Council with their campaign.“
UK Youth Parliament will now develop campaign actions to enable Members of Youth Parliament to hold a day of action on Friday 20th January 2017.