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Meg Munn MP - Sheffield Heeley's voice in Parliament | Welcome
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Article for politicalkids - Feb 2004 MP of the month

Tuesday, January 20, 2004

I'm the Member of Parliament for an area of Sheffield called Heeley, this is known as a constituency. In Heeley there are 62,000 people who can vote but they are not the only people who live in my constituency. There are also thousands of children and young people. Even though you don't get the vote until you're 18, I think that your views matter. Not many young people write to me or ring me up so I try to meet as many as I can by going into schools and meeting youth groups.


Before I was elected to parliament I worked in social work for a long time mainly with children. Many of the children and young people I worked with couldn't live at home with their own parents. Often difficult decisions had to be made about their lives. It was the responsibility of adults to make those decisions but even so hearing what children thought was important. The law says that social workers have to take children's wishes and feelings into account.


When I became a Member of Parliament I wanted to do more to ensure that all children and young people have to be listened to and especially in schools. So I was really pleased that during my first year in parliament the Government listened to me and other MPs and made it law that all schools have to consult their pupils about the running of the school. Now every school in Britain has to have some way of doing this.


Many schools have school councils where each year group elects some pupils to sit on the council to discuss things about the school and sometimes the local area. One of my local primary schools invited me to one of their school council meetings to ask me questions as their local MP. They also told me how they had written to Sheffield City Council to complain about litter in the streets and the park near the school. The Council now regularly clean the area. They had managed to stop parents parking illegally outside the school to drop children off and they had been allowed to decide how to spend some money to improve the school. All the children had agreed that the most important thing to do was to decorate the toilets.


I recently discovered a great website about school councils www.schoolcouncils.org. If you have a school council have a look to get more ideas. If you haven't got one yet its got lots of information about setting one up - it gives advice to teachers too. This might be useful if you are trying to persuade your teachers to set one up. Of course you can't expect to make all the decisions about the school - the teachers still have responsibility to make sure you get a good education. So I wouldn't waste your time in a school council voting to abolish maths or science lessons because its not going to happen! But having your say about school uniform, tackling bullying and how you organise lunch time are some of the things you can do. Its been proved that schools that listen to what their pupils think usually have fewer discipline problems and pupils who do better in their school work.


And don't forget to contact your local MP and councillors to tell them what you think about other things. They may have a website that you can look at and an e-mail address. You might not be able to vote yet but they are your representatives and you may be able to get them to come and visit you in your school to hear what you think.






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