News story

International Democracy Day sparks search for the UK’s most democratic schools

A new award for schools that encourage pupils to get interested in the democratic process has been launched on International Democracy Day.

The new Discovering Democracy Award will recognise schools that involve their pupils with democracy from an early age.

On International Democracy Day, the British Youth Council (BYC) has launched the Discovering Democracy Award. The new award is for schools that encourage pupils to take an interest in the democratic process.

The award aims to support the need to develop character as well as a strong grounding in core academic subjects. We are encouraging secondary schools and colleges to apply for it.

Watch Minister John Penrose on the Discovering Democracy Award

The award will encourage schools to engage young people, particularly those aged 16 and over, with democracy from an early age. This may include voting for their representatives on a school council or getting involved in social action campaigns.

Minister for Constitutional Reform, John Penrose said:

I am delighted to launch this important new award. In the 800th anniversary of Magna Carta we can all be proud of Britain’s role in laying the foundations of modern democracy.

Children and Families Minister, Edward Timpson said:​ ​

I welcome this Discovering Democracy Award that is owned and judged by young people themselves. It is vital that all school pupils develop character and understanding, and engaging in the democratic process is a key part of this. We want young people to leave school with not just a strong academic grounding, but a wider understanding of fundamental British values so they are fully prepared to succeed in adult life.

Jon Foster, Chair, British Youth Council ​said:​

The British Youth Council welcomes this partnership with the Cabinet Office to promote and recognise the role of schools in supporting grassroots democracy. These principles are the foundation of our communities, society and government and where better to nurture them than through education. We have a great network of schools working in support of the UK Youth Parliament who we hope will take part in the Discovering Democracy Awards.

The government wants to see people from across society engaging in the democratic process – young and old. In the run up to the 2015 general election, the Cabinet Office funded youth organisations to provide activities to engage young people in the democratic process. This included funding the British Youth Council to set up the Discovering Democracy Schools Programme.

Find out more about the Discovering Democracy Award and apply.

To help schools and colleges, the Cabinet Office, in partnership with other organisations, has developed a collection of interactive learning resources for schools to use. Resources such as Rock Enrol!® help provide a greater understanding of democracy and the voting system.

The activities cover everything from the history of democracy to the practicalities of registering to vote. They include interactive approaches for getting people engaged in democracy, such as one-to-one support, peer-to-peer training, quizzes, workshops and leaflets.