The Association of CSPE Teachers (ACT)
Supporting Citizenship Education in Ireland
a General Election in CSPE Class
by Brendan O'Regan
***Ideas for following a general election on a national and/or local/constituency level - an ideal citizenship action.
Break class into small groups - one for each political party fielding candidates in the area, and one for independents if any. Each group must track their party's activities through the campaign, compiling written log/report, and making regular presentations/progress reports to class.
Resources will include local newspapers, election literature, party and candidate websites etc
Posters relating to the campaign could be put up in classrooms be alert to issues of balance and school values/ethos.
A visit from each candidate would be ideal, though as the election approaches they may not have time, but may be willing to send a representative.
Party political broadcasts can be recorded from radio and TV or streamed from online sources and used in class.
Opinion polls leading up to the election could be studied and compared to national/constituency outcome. This is also an ideal opportunity to study the mechanics of the elections.
Individual students or groups could be assigned to discover the location of polling booths in their area, or interview a returning officer or election official.
If time there could be a voter registration campaign, with junior CSPE students ensuring that pupils over 18 can vote, and/or having students encouraging parents/guardians to register and vote.
A mock or mirror election could be held, either with imaginary candidates or having the students voting on the actual candidates. The school/class result could be compared with the constituency outcome.
The relevant sections of the Constitution on election procedures and requirements could be studied (have a class set in the school). At the end of voting day polling centres may be willing to keep the large mock-up voting papers for schools - useful for classroom walls and future election actions.
Use the count to examine the PR voting system - there should be detailed count by count figures in local newspapers and in some national media.
Each group should make their final report on how their candidate(s)/party did. It might be possible to bring/send a group of students to the local count centre. Allow for a review and reflection class.