Inspiring tomorrow's leaders
Alex Michaels is a Councillor on the Three Rivers District Council.
There’s a lot of debate about the state of British democracy and values at the moment, and as Chairman of Three Rivers District Council Youth Council I’ve really enjoyed seeing first-hand how engaging young people in citizenship and the role of government encourages them to take an interest and play a more active role in society.
Working with primary schools in particular has been really rewarding - even from the age of six or seven it’s really easy to draw students into thinking about how they can play a role in society from a young age. They are learning to be involved and influence the world they will live in for decades to come. In particular, local authorities are a perfect introduction to governance as these are things they can see within their home environments, from open spaces and refuse to parking and transport.
We recently had 15 schools in our chamber debating issues - ranging from the challenges elderly people face to controlling parking outside schools - and we’ve had great success in getting school councils more engaged and empowered to take the baton themselves and work to bring change in their local area.
We’ve also found that it’s easier to dabble in more experimental areas of teaching that allow teachers to bring in technology and move away from the high-pressured curriculum focus of more traditional subjects. This has included working with schools to make a community video featuring students talking about how they feel about the future of the local area. Local authorities have an important and exciting role to play in this and I’d encourage making contact with local schools and starting the journey together.
I’ve found that teachers have been incredibly receptive, and working with primary and secondary students is wonderfully rewarding and challenging. The feedback and views they express are invaluable. Most importantly, I do feel we are in safe hands for the future but it is our job as leaders to get out and inspire the leaders of tomorrow.