No education without representation: Pupils protest after missing out on Youth Parliament

Holly, Alice and Saasha from St Albans Girls School wearing suffragette sashes and badges. Photo: ST

Holly, Alice and Saasha from St Albans Girls School wearing suffragette sashes and badges. Photo: STAGS. - Credit: Archant

One hundred years since women received the vote, a group of schoolgirls are still fighting for representation.

Youth Parliament is a national initiative where 11 to 18 year-olds can represent their area - except in Hertfordshire, where Youth Connexions (YC) used to run the parliament programme until the county council cancelled the programme.

Now a group of pupils from St Albans Girls School are protesting against their lack of representation, including Holly Spencer and Saasha Anwar, who said: “We think Youth Parliament is really important as it encourages a lot of young people to campaign for change and to get into politics.

“Students are given a voice, however in Herts this opportunity has been taken away from us. We would like to get that back.”

Holly and Saasha, along with Alice Drury, spoke on Radio Verulam on International Women’s Day about their campaign and fellow pupils Lilian Ahmed, Kristie Taylor and Jourdan Garande have written to local MPs for assistance.

A Herts County Council spokesperson said: “YC supports young people in the county to get their voice heard in lots of different ways. One of these was through the United Kingdom Youth Parliament where Hertfordshire was allocated five places. However, the ambition in the county is to support the participation of many more young people to play an active role to get their voice heard.

“An example of this is the Young Commissioner programme. Hertfordshire County Council commissioners are working alongside young people and the service providers to improve the services young people receive across health, education and social care.

Most Read

“Also YC facilitates 12 Youth Councils that meet to discuss the problems young people face and how issues can be addressed. Additionally YC supports Herts1125, a group of young people who represent the views and opinions of those aged 11–25 who live, work or are educated in the county.

“We believe that these programmes offer significantly more opportunities for young people to take part and have their voice heard than the five places in Hertfordshire provided by the Youth Parliament.”