Five ways to support students to engage in elections

Impending elections make this Voter Registration Week an important opportunity to involve learners in the democratic process, writes Harriet Andrews

Impending elections make this Voter Registration Week an important opportunity to involve learners in the democratic process, writes Harriet Andrews

6 Mar 2024, 12:30

Voter Registration Week has arrived and we’re encouraging colleges from across the further education sector to support their students to register to vote.

2024 is going to be an important year for students to use their voice, with local, regional and national elections all taking place in the next few months. Currently, only 16 per cent of young people between the ages of 16 and 18 are registered to vote, and colleges are key to helping young people get onto the electoral register.

This year, students will face some unique challenges around election time that, as educators, you can support them to navigate. For many, they will need the media literacy skills to follow fast-moving current affairs on social media, with the increasing prevalence of AI-generated disinformation. They will also need the skills to engage in critical discussion and debate as the election period gets into full swing.

Many will be voting for the first time, and we have a great opportunity to support them to be informed and equipped to cast their first vote, setting them on the path to be lifelong voters.   

Supporting elections is a crucial role for colleges, ensuring young people are kept well informed and are prepared to be active citizens both within their college community and beyond.

Further Education Zone

To support colleges to engage their students in the election, we have created a new Further Education Zone on the Democracy Classroom platform.  Developed by The Politics Project, sponsored by National Association of Managers in Student Services (NAMSS) and supported by the Association of Colleges (AoC), the toolkit pulls together content from organisations across the education and democracy sectors. It contains a range of non-partisan resources and guidance on how to organise election hustings, run voter registration drives, promote discussion and bring democracy to life.

We know that supporting young people to engage in elections can be a daunting task, especially with all the other pressures on time and resources.

Below are five activities you can do that make a huge difference to support your students to engage in the election.

Share information

Use template emails to support students to register to vote, learn about the election and signpost to out-of-college opportunities.

Raise awareness

Use a range of posters, flyers and digital displays to support students to learn about the election as they walk around college.

Run a voter registration drive

Support all of your students to get on to the electoral register (young people can register from 16 in England and Northern Ireland and from 14 in Scotland and Wales). You could do this through auto enrolment which integrates registration into a student’s enrolment process when they join college. We are also able to offer in-person support to run a registration drive through our Exploring Elections Programme. Not sure where to start? You can book a free training session here.

Integrate the election into teaching and learning

Use a variety of resources designed for colleges to support your students to learn about politics, democracy and elections.

Run or direct students to a local hustings event

Support your students to meet and learn about their local candidates. Our hustings map will be coming out soon!

If you are looking for training, support and resources please don’t hesitate to book a quick call with The Politics Project team and we will be happy to direct you to the support you need.

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