The votes for 16+ debate has been raging for many years, causing tensions whenever it’s mentioned. Many argue that 16 year olds lack the maturity and awareness to make good political decisions. Others argue that if 16 year olds are old enough to sit exams, look for and obtain work and get pregnant, surely they should be allowed to vote? 

Voter turnout for 18-24 year olds is abysmal. 47% of 18-24 year olds voted in the 2019 election, having decreased by 7% from the 2017 election. Many young people feel that politicians are out of touch with the younger generations. This means that not all young people are inclined to vote as they feel that their views will not be represented by the government. 

Politics should be taught in schools prior to A-levels. By not effectively educating young people on political issues and how the system works, we have actively disadvantaged our younger generations. Education is particularly important for sixth formers, as many students will turn 18 before the end of Year 13 and therefore need to understand how the system works in order to be able to make good political decisions. 

I asked 38 young people to fill out a Google Forms questionnaire about their opinions on certain political issues. 97% of the participants disagreed with the government’s controversial Rwanda Policy, highlighting the awareness young people have on these issues. The Rwanda Policy has caused political uproar, with many young people opposing the bill.  A vast majority of the young people involved in my questionnaire said that they would have reversed the decision to leave the European Union as it was not something that we were able to have a say in. The referendum took place when many of us were still in primary school, meaning we were far too young to be able to vote. Our generation is, for the most part, staunchly anti-Brexit. Many of us recognise the damage that leaving the EU has done to our economy as well as our food standards. 

A number of participants were unable to name more than one member of the Conservative Party cabinet. A number of others were unable to name the Leader of the Opposition, Sir Keir Starmer. This shows that young people are disconnected from politics as they cannot name politicians who aren't the Prime Minister. This is unsurprising as a lot of young people don’t watch the news very often or follow news sources on social media. 

Research suggests that young people are more likely to care about local issues rather than national issues when it comes to politics. So how do we get young people more involved in national politics? Politics should be taught in schools right from the start in order to better prepare young people for being able to vote. Teachers should put on the news in form time and discuss events with their students. A lot of people, especially young people, think that is incredibly confusing so they automatically disengage from it. There is a great account on Instagram called @simplepolitics that breaks down political headlines and presents it in a way that is quick and easy to understand.