Lesson video

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Hello everyone and welcome back to citizenship.

This is your third lesson with me, Mrs. Shortland and we're going to consider the question today, should the voting age be reformed? As always, all you're going to need is a pen and a piece of paper.

So if you want to go and get yourself organised now by pausing the video, taking down today's title, and I'll see you back here in a bit.

Hello again, now, if you're going to give voting rights to people, they're given the ability to influence policies through elected representatives and they're given more of a say and ultimately have more power in shaping the sort of democracy that they would like to see.

And there's an ongoing debate about who should be entitled to vote.

And in particular should 16 and 17 year olds be given the vote? So we're going to explore this a little bit more specifically when we look at what we mean by voting reform, what are the arguments for reforming the voting age? And should we ultimately reform the voting age? So these are the things that you're going to have a look at today with me.

Great, so now you've got those keywords down.

Just want you to remember that democracy is not static.

It evolves, it changes over time.

And also the thing about voting is that it's the people's chance to decide who they want to run their country and represents their interests.

So we're going to watch a short history of political power and voting reform in the UK so that you can see the main changes a little bit more easily.

You might want to take some notes down, but either way, just enjoy the video and we'll compare notes when we get back.

Pray lend me your ears and I'll tell you our story.

A drama of power, of battle and glory.

For Parliament's tale is a tale to savour, whatever your taste or political flavour.

A thousand years past our Kings wanted a palace, that others would look on in envious malice.

Competing to build the grandest abode, but Westminster hall was the most out of mode.

The King gets too bossy.

So here comes Magna Carta to rein in his powers and do things much smarter.

Council meets in his chambers for intrigue and dramas and parliaments born with the King in pyjamas.

200 years later, move voting arrives.

Though it's 400 more till it touches most lives.

No paupers or women gets electoral powers and the wait will be long till democracy flowers.

Back to the palace, Westminster's ablaze, leaving poor Henry VIII in a daze.

The council remains but the king is sent packing so Parliament gets the first home that was lacking Wales in England, unite in a bold new beginning common laws for lands the judiciary screening.

But Guy Fawkes diffuses on the fifth of November and gives the whole country a night to remember.

Now grim Civil War sounds the monarchies deafen and power is seized by bold Oliver Cromwell.

For the outcomes the one that the King is most dreaded and on a cold lonely morning publicly beheaded, Charles II does better.

He's soon back on the throne and Scotland ensures that he won't feel alone with Scottish MPS parliament's now overflowing but a hundred more from Ireland.

Keep the numbers of growing.

Reforms now democracies looking more healthy.

One in seven can vote.

If they're male, grown and wealthy.

What is it with fires? Again parliament's burning Westminster Hall saved.

Guess the fire brigade's learning a new buildings built with lots of to-do lists.

And Big Ben is added which pleases the tourists yet something smells funny.

And though parliaments knew they had to go source out the stink from the sewer.

Our women want votes chained themselves to the railing.

Their passion is great.

Their resolve is unfailing.

Then the men go to war in the greatest of slaughters, leaving the land in the hands of their wives and their daughters.

And in 1918, female suffrage arrives.

And so in the wake of the war, a democracy thrives but it isn't for long that we laid down our weapons as once more the spectre of World War II started.

Parliament's bombed 14 times in the air raids and Commonwealth sent in repairs help and upgrades skip onto the sixties, equality flares voting age 18 now that parliament does.

The '80s we're almost back to the present time to make parliament look much more pleasant.

It's been burned down and rebuilt and crowded and smelly, but it scrubbed up all nice when it gets on the telly.

And so ends our tale of war, fire, and mystery.

Why not go find out more about democracy's history? So as the video showed real reform is just the process by which the law is modified and shaped over time.

And it reflects the social values that society feels are important.

This diagram shows you the gradual process of voting reform from 1215 until 1969, as shown in the video.

It doesn't include the changes seen in Scotland and Wales that I'll mention later.

The dates you can see are really crucial in the changes to policy surrounding the issue of voting as you saw.

Perhaps the greatest of these came after women fought and in some cases died to secure quality and universal suffrage in 1928.

The diagram really shows, doesn't it? how long it took to turn Britain from a country, having few people with political rights to the type of democracy we have today.

And if you want to know more about law reform and the events on this diagram have a look at your citizenship unit called why it was a struggle for the vote important today.

Because this unit covers both the chartists and the suffragettes who were central in reforming the voting system.

There have been reforms to both the Scottish and Welsh voting system.

Look at this slide.

It shows the ages at which you can vote across the United Kingdom.

The Scottish elections reduction of voting Age Act of 2015, reduced the age at which people could vote.

All 16 and 17 year olds in Scotland can vote in Scottish parliament elections and local elections.

As well as this at 14, you can register to vote in Scotland.

Similarly in 2020, Wales also lowered the voting age, giving the franchise to all 16 and 17 year olds who can now vote in Senedd Cymru elections, voting for their local members of the Senate and like Scotland you can also register to vote in Wales, it's 14.

However, have a look at England and Northern Ireland.

You can register to vote at 16 and vote at all elections at 18.

The last time the voting age was loaded in England and Northern Ireland was in 1969 after the representation of the People's Act.

And that lowered the voting age from 21 to 18.

So if you're 18 or older across the UK, you can vote in all elections.


You've learnt so much information already.

Let's have a little bit of a time to pause and reflect on all that learning.

You can see four questions in front of you and two possible answers, just true or false.

I'm going to read the question and the possible answers and count down from three.

And after that, all we need to do is point to the screen, shout out the correct answer or write it down, are you ready? Reform means the right to vote in your country's elections, true or false? Three two, one, it's false.

reform just means change.

Universal suffrage was granted to all people over the age of 21 and 1928.

Is that true or false? Three, two one, it is true, brilliant job.

The voting age was last reformed in 2004 or 2004.

Is that true or false? Three, two one.

It is false.

It was last reformed in yep, brilliant, 1969.

You can vote in all elections.

If you are 16 and live in Scotland or Wales, is that true or false? Three, two, one.

It is false.

Don't worry, if you got that one wrong it's a bit of a trick question there, isn't it? You can vote in all national elections in Scotland but you always, if you live in either one of those places but you cannot vote in the general election or any UK based elections you have to be 18 for that.

So here's all the answers, you want to make any corrections then do so, and then we join me in a second.

All right, you've learned so much already.

So hopefully you understand a bit more about what reform is in terms of voting.

And you've also had a look at the fact that it's taken a long time for voting reform to happen in the UK from 1215.

If you want to have a look at any more of those events that were on that diagram then do dip into the other citizenship lessons.

You can learn an awful lot more about them but political reform usually takes place when there are changes within society.

And today there's loads of new laws being proposed all the time to prove that just to have a look at the Rump Parliament website, and you can find out how many bills are currently being debated.

When I looked there were over 270 of them, including a recent one which is trying to change the age of criminal responsibility in the UK from 10 to 12.

Let's have a look at some more conditions that give rise to reform.

Have a look at those pink words.

Firstly, the values of society change over time.

We've seen that, haven't we? In terms of that diagram, it was no longer acceptable for women or for men not to be given the right to vote.

And when the values of society changes.

It places, pressure on the law to have to change and adapt.

And it does this all the time.

What is acceptable at one time might be considered unacceptable at another time, a slightly more recent example than the suffragettes and the chapters is in terms of the death penalty.

So the development of human rights in this country and that changing attitudes mean that today people feel it's morally wrong to use the death penalty within our legal system, changing composition of society.

For example, people are living much longer in the UK.

The government has to consider this and the effect that an ageing population has on the UK economy.

So for example, the state pension age is gradually increasing for men and women from 60 and will reach 67 by 2028.

Failure of existing law.

Well, when laws fail, they have to be reformed.

That makes sense, doesn't it? I'd like you to have a look and researched, find any laws that have failed within the UK or that have had to be revised by amendment.

So new technologies create any need for law reform.

When technology is in advance of the law, it puts pressure on the law to reform.

For example, UK was the first country in the world to create new online safety laws as part of the online Holmes white paper.

And you can go online and have a look at that.

And what it says is that with increasing social media, social media firms must abide and have a duty of care to protect online users.

And they can face heavy fines if they failed to deliver these measures and make the internet a safer place.

I'm really proud of that white paper, because there's a huge team involved in creating it, including my younger sister she was involved in the research and writing the law.

So let's have a look at the institutions involved in reform.

Parliament is a main law-making body.

Another function of parliament is to pass amendments to existing laws.

So parliament plays a really important role in reforming the law but government departments also are involved in rulemaking and then amending the Online Homes Paper I just mentioned was put forward by the department for digital culture, media, and sport.

And there are 23 other ministerial departments, that all work in their area of expertise to make sure laws are fit for purpose.

Judicial decisions, the courts can shape the law and reform it.

The role of the courts is to interpret the laws made by parliament.

The rules of common law also lack judges to reform law by setting new precedents in cases that come before them.

Common law can be quite tricky to understand but do find out more about it, if you're interested.

And the law commission, today we have a law commission which is a statutory independent body, and it keeps the law under review and recommends reform where it's needed.

The aim of the commission is to ensure that your is fair modern, simple, and cost effective where possible.

Now, although individuals can't change the law but they can influence them as members being members of pressure groups, they can influence reform and pressure groups are just collections of people with similar interests and with specific aims, they will use things like petitions lobby MPS, and pressure groups may lead to changes in the law because the law commission receives the views of pressure groups when reviewing the law.

For example, shelter, help the aged in Greenpeace have all influenced the lawyers some way shelter led to change in Housing Act in 1977 and more recently Greenpeace is providing evidence for monitoring the progress of the government's new environmental bill putting all that together.

Now you should know how law reform is achieved but it needs both public will and organisations in place to make change happen.

So let's have a look at some of the recent history and campaigning that seeks to reform the voting age in the UK.

Reform votes at 16.

In 1998, the British Youth Council surveyed a thousand young people across the UK about their participation in society and their understanding of political processes.

The survey strengthened their commitment to a campaign for votes at 16 and in 2003, a coalition of young people, organisations and politicians formed with a single aim of reforming the voting age.

After years of being in 2018, all party parliamentary group was formed which meet regularly to discuss extending the franchise to 16 and 17 year olds.

This is what we're going to move on to now having a look and focusing in on votes at 16.

All right, on to task three already.

And you're going to determine which arguments are for and against voting reform.

On the following slide you will see a range of arguments concerning voting reform and your job is to organise them into a list.

Those that are for voting reform and those that are against.

So you need to pause the video on this slide to be able to read all of these arguments.

Let's do the first one.

At 16, you may still live at home and are more easily influenced by parents and teachers.

So is that four to reform or against it? What do you think? That's right, that would be against voting reform because it's saying that you are really not responsible and you just listen to your parents and teachers and don't have your own mind.

Now you know what to do pause the video and sort those arguments into two lists.

And I will see you in a bit.

How did you do? Here's some feedback.

Did you get these correct.

So just give yourself a tick or add them into your table.

If you didn't get these rights show you did.

For voter reform you have more legal rights and responsibilities.

When you turn 16.

At 16, you can marry join the armed forces and consent to medical treatment.

There are more political decisions that start to affect you at 16 such as tax rates, university fees and public transport.

If young people could vote politicians might act on issues that concern them.

You have knowledge of voting and how it works through citizenship matters which includes learning about electro systems and how the government works.

By extending the franchise, it might increase voter turnout at elections.

Politics is discussed at school, which may get younger people into the habit of voting.

Four these points where against voting reform.

I'm sure you've got those rights.

They are people legally become adults at the age of 18.

At 16 you still need parental consent to do a lot of things.

The law says you cannot buy knives and alcohol at 16.

Most countries in the world have kept 18 as the voting age at 16 you may still live at home and a lot more influence ruler and they're more easily influenced by parents and teachers and most surveys show that people want to keep the voting age at 18.

So these are all the arguments that are used in this great debate on voting reform and lowering the voting age.

I'm hoping now you understand a little bit more about voting reform in the UK and to starting to think about that current campaign to lower the age of voting to 16.

You've learnt lots of information but the question still remains well, what do you think? And this is a central question in citizenship, isn't it? Your opinion is always important.

And I'd like you to consider your view.

There are just as many organisations and individuals that don't want to see changes to the voting system and age as there are the number of people who are calling for reform.

So what's your view.

You know, the arguments now.

So I'd like you to pause the video to consider your opinion and create a sort of bubble map that shows the most important argument for you, which is for and against reform.

You could also add your own ideas here if you'd like as well because we've not covered all of the arguments by any stretch of the imagination.

I want you to come up with your best argument to support your view and consider whether you are generally for or against the voting age being reformed.

Pause now to complete your task.

How did you do? how many of these did you include in your map? These are the main four arguments.

You have more legal rights and responsibilities when you turn 16 you also have a lot more political decisions that affect you at this age, such as university fees and public transport.

You have knowledge of voting and how it works.

You've had lots of citizenship education at school, which includes learning about electro systems and lastly by extending the franchise giving more people the right to vote especially 16 and 17 year olds.

This might increase voter turnout at elections because research has shown that young people are mostly politically active.

Here are the against arguments.

At 16, you may still live at home and you're more easily influenced by people.

People legally become adults at the age of 18.

You don't need your parent's consent for any activity.

So again, this argument is about maturity and other countries in the world have kept 18 as the voting age.

So there's a large consensus that this age really is the best stage for young people to be able to vote.

So I wonder what your view was which side of the debate you're on.

I think the most frequent argument for is that it's going to increase political engagement and therefore improve satisfaction with the political process and eventually increase the turnout rate.

And what I hear mostly about the debate against vote at 16 is that a 16 young people have not acquired the knowledge and the maturity needed for such important task as voting, but they are other people's opinion and what matters is what you think.

So we're going to move on now and extend your view by using a source based question.

And here you're going to apply your knowledge.

We have considered key arguments concerning the issue of reforming the voting age.

And we've also considered personal opinions around this issue and what you think.

So now you're going to apply this by answering a common citizenship question which writer do you agree with the most and why? In citizenship, you always consider a range of views.

And you've already learnt a lot about reforming the voting age, consider some arguments and given your opinion, I've been nosy useful framework to help you analyse a writer's point of view.

Think of them in steps.

When you're analysing a piece of writing.

Step one, firstly have to identify each writer's view.

So you do need to work out who's for and who's against something.

In this case, it's who is for votes at 16 and who is against.

Step two, then you consider the writer that you agree with more.

You need to make a decision at this point need to be able to justify your decision as one in a bit.

Step three, pick one or two key arguments that the person gives and say, why you agree with them? Try to expand your points, using wider knowledge.

And don't just say, Oh, I agree.

Or to give a reason why there.

Step four, for the writer you disagree with pick one or two key arguments that person gives and say, why you disagree with them.

Again, don't just say I disagree.

Give examples and then lastly step five, write a brief conclusion that explains who you agree with most and why.

Now these steps will stay on this video.

So if you need to keep referring back to them, just rewind the video and pause it so you can take them down.

Let's have a look at the writer's views now, are you ready? This is writer one, Norman Lamb MP.

What's he saying? Is he for or against the voting age being reduced? And what do you agree or disagree with what he's saying? Should I do a silly voice that might annoy you? Okay, let's go for it.

"Too many young people are disengaged from the political process.

That's a problem in itself.

We should aim for all our citizens to take an active interest in our democracy, but historically low turnouts amongst young people have also resulted in a political culture which often fails to take the interests of young people seriously.

Instead, the risk is that political parties focus their attention disproportionately on older people where turnout is much higher.

16 and 17 year olds can join our armed forces.

They can get married and they can pay taxes on their income if their own work yet they are not allowed of saying the level of those taxes or what they might be used for.

It only seems fair that they enjoy the same right as their fellow citizens to take part in a democratic processes and have their voice heard." If you need to pause the video to take the on those main points, then please do so now.

We're going to writer two again, this is from Thomas to Freitas but think about what he saying is he for or against the voting age being reduced? And what do you agree and disagree with? "16 year olds are not deemed mature enough to make many decisions by themselves.

And so it's the franchise we're extended to 16 year olds.

There would be a level of inconsistency in the way 16 year olds are treated.

The age of maturity or adulthood is considered to be 18.

Voting rights are reserved for citizens who can play a full and active part in society.

It is a Rite of passage.

Should we lower the age at which you can fight on the battlefield? Purchase age restricting restricted items, such as alcohol cigarettes or knives allow 16 year olds to drive and require them to be treated as an adult in court? The debate should be around which age makes most sense." Didn't read one as well as the first one, did I? But again what I'd like to do is just take down the notes and the bits of evidence that you might need to use when you're writing your source based question answer.

Pause the video now.

We're on task four already.

And all you have to do now is put that all together.

Which writer do you agree with and why? There is some sentence starters there to help you with this task but I'd be really interested to see who you agree with and why.

If you need to go back and check the arguments again, just pause the video.

We'll rewind it and take down some more notes and join me at this point.

I would spend about seven minutes on this task.

So good luck.

And I'll see you in a bit.

How did you do, did you remember those steps? Step one, the answer to that was, writer one was reforming the voting age and writer two was against.

Step two as your own personal views.

And there's never a right or wrong answer here just what you believe.

Step three, you were asked to pick one or two arguments that the person gives and say, why you agree with them? And hopefully you've expanded your points as well.

Step four, for the right you disagree with pick one or two key arguments, don't just say I disagree.

And then step five, write a brief conclusion.

So I'm not sure what yours looks like.

This is what one of my students came up with.

So you might've had some similar points that they put forward here.

They said, "The writer I agree with more is writer one, who strongly suggests that voting age should be lowered to 16.

This is because voting at 16 with much other aspects of citizenship available at that age, for example, 16 year olds pay taxes.

And yet they're not in to say in the level of those taxes or what they might be used for.

16 and 17 year olds take on significant responsibilities as part of society.

It's only right that the government should grant them the right to have a say in society's decisions.

Right one also makes a valid point regarding the current state of our democracy.

Politicians focus on their policies.

For older voters who tend to vote in greater numbers than young people do the forming the franchise to include 16 and 17 year olds who take citizenship education at school and who are very active politically might ensure greater voter turnout.

Politicians would also listen to more young people and support policy, which affects them.

And they went on to say, I disagree with writer two's argument.

That's it makes more sense to keep the voting age at 18 as it would give rise to major inconsistencies in the law voting a political right, not a legal one.

Overall, I believe writer one makes the strongest case as 16 year olds may not have the maturity to vote on important issues or even be interested.

But that can be said for people 18, perhaps the opportunity to vote at 16 would make even more people, young people interested in politics, either way reform is long overdue.

That's what one student said at my school.

Did you agree with them? Did you agree with any of the points that they made? Or did you argue against reforming the voting age and lowering the voting age to 16.

Hope, you've learned a lot today.

I've enjoyed having you along with me.

So I'd like you to just now to practise those new citizenship skills you've got.

You've got more skills and knowledge about this issue of reforming the age of voting.

I'm hopeful that you can inspire others to take an interest in politics and current affairs because democracy needs a healthy balance of views and opinions to thrive.

So perhaps you can start conversations with your peers around reforming the voting age.

Here's some ideas that you could have a go at, create an oracy drive in school, find out what issues are a concern to students or organise your MP to talk about this issue, which side of the debates are they on? You could research the work of vote at 16 and research organisations that don't want reform.

Have a look at online petitions around this issue, or you could start a petition of your own.

We've done an awful lot today, haven't we? We've had a look at what we mean by voting reform.

We've looked at the arguments for and against reforming the voting age and you've considered your opinion around whether the voting age should be reformed.

Brilliant job, all that's left now to do is to complete the exit quiz.

And if you'd like to please ask your parents or carer to share your work on Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter tagging at Oak National and #LearnWithOak.

I hope you have a fabulous rest of the day.

I've really enjoyed teaching you and hope to see you soon.

Take care, bye.