Democracy, Engagement and Leadership

Year 12 student Archie Robinson gave an assembly at the start of the academic year which has since presented a new opportunity to explore democracy, engagement and leadership. His topic is of course, of great interest to him: democracy, electoral reform and ways to improve society. Since then, following the UK’s General Election he wanted to explore these ideas further with polling and mock elections in school. Recent events have ruled this out but the move to online communication channels presented this new opportunity, for exploration and experimentation into the mechanisms of democracy and the nature of leadership itself…

‘As the world writhes in the clutches of the novel Coronavirus, darkness falls upon most governments of our precious world. Crises arise almost every day as economies collapse, systems fail, and the inhabitants of each nation suffer under brutal restrictions. From the ashes of this burning world rises something unexpected: a fledgling democracy, formed by one student with a head full of ideas and far too much time. 

His plan at first seems simple but will turn out to far outgrow his initial expectations. First act: assemble the members of the school into a single body. This process took some time, as over 100 individuals had to be collated and individually appointed to the new team. Once all members had been assembled, the real work could begin.

With the help of a nameless partner, two legislative bodies are formed (The Lower house and the exclusive ‘High Council’) and a system by which legislation could pass between the two was created. This Council was further divided in order to ensure power could not go unchecked and the first constitution was drafted. The boy became the Executor and the nameless partner became the Chancellor (see Declaration 5 of the constitution for further information on these roles). Following early applications, other members of the High Council were added, and the team began its early functions. 

Democracy, Engagement and Leadership

This brings us to the present: the application process for nomination into the two-round Presidential election is underway; upper roles of the High Council are being filled as applications are received, the third draft of the Constitution has been published and the blinding light of democracy is almost visible around the corners of students’ screens as they work. 

Now to the future. Many things are yet to be achieved. In the coming days and weeks, reshuffles of upper positions, new legislation on group membership and perhaps external threats will be encountered. We have by no means finished and we have much to do and much to learn. It is hoped that our young democracy may continue as the world recovers from this pandemic. Its light may yet shine among the other governments of the world as our society returns to something like its former self.

I, the young boy described, have a passion for politics. Demographics, voting records and governmental systems are fascinating to me. As such, I created my own model by which I could explore these topics myself. I must admit that I did not at all initially plan for this level of intricacy, but I am pleased by the way it turned out. It is interesting to see how people jump so readily at the opportunity to be a part of something like this: something bigger than themselves. I have already had younger students submit 500+ word essays to me on why they believe they should be members of the High Council (something I never thought they would do). I am not quite sure if all the students even know that we currently have no real power over the school. When founding the team, I did not expect people to take it all that seriously. However, I found that the more seriously I took it, the more seriously others took it. I found messaging people using words that make you sound like a company Email bot will often result in them replying back using the most formal language they can possibly muster (sometimes giving rise to the incorrect use of vocabulary and questionable sentence forms, but I congratulate them nonetheless). 

I think if nothing else, this is a fascinating experiment, which has opened my eyes to how difficult it actually is to run any kind of administrative body and shown that unserious things can often be made serious simply by enough people taking them seriously.’

 Archie Robinson, Year 12

With openness and transparency, democracy and adherence to the rule of law, we are already seeing a sea change, turning indifference into intrigue, intrigue into engagement and engagement into positive collaboration for all. With the first round of hustings imminent and polling to take place shortly after, the experiment begins.