School visits to the States Chamber
The school visit scheme involves all year 5 primary school children (9-10 year olds) from both States funded and private schools. The scheme runs throughout the school year, allowing each school to visit the States Chamber.
It aims to encourage local children to take more of an interest in how their Island is governed and dovetails with the citizenship curriculum to promote participation in elections, especially since the lowering of the voting age to 16.
What happens during the visit?
The visits take place on a Monday morning. The children sit in the seats usually occupied by States Members and use the voting system during a mini debate on a topic of their choice. 3 of the children take the roles of the Greffier, the Dean and the Usher.
Preparing for the visit
Children receive a leaflet before their visit (prepared by the Deputy Greffier and Publications Editor, using photos taken by our Registry Assistant and featuring the Deputy Greffier’s cartoon character, Pierre the Pigeon) which gives an overview of the work of the States.
A DVD / Powerpoint presentation can also be downloaded by schools before their visit, to prepare the children for their special meeting. The DVD provides some history about the Chamber and the evolution of the States. It also highlights the procedural aspects of a States meeting, which are mirrored as closely as possible by the children’s visits.
Visits during 2016
In 2016, there were 42 visits by year 5 classes (a total of 973 children) to the Chamber. Each child was presented with a copy of their proposition, an Order Paper, an information sheet about the States member whose seat they had taken and a certificate to commemorate their involvement in the visit
Debate topics during 2016 included:
- banning unhealthy foods in lunchboxes
- use of iPods and other electronic devices
- creating a theme park at Fort Regent
- bringing in a tax on fizzy drinks
Children commented that seeing the Royal Mace and pressing the voting buttons were the highlights of their visit to the Chamber.
The scheme is run by the Deputy Greffier, Lisa Hart, and the Cultural Development Officer, Rod McLoughlin, assisted by staff from the States Assembly Information Centre.