Hi AGGS! In year 9 we’re doing a project called Campaign Makers, where my group and I had to choose a social issue that we were especially passionate about and also a charity that promotes the same cause.
We decided that our social issue was going to be homelessness; an issue which is most prevalent in Manchester currently, and as our charity we chose Trussell Trust, as they provide excellent help for people in difficult, unimaginable situations. This charity campaign to make sure that, one day, no one will have to turn for their help. They support a nationwide network of food banks and together they provide emergency food and support to people locked in poverty.
Currently in the UK, more than 14 million people are living in poverty – including 4.5 million children. Imagine that, being a young, vulnerable person out on the streets all day, all year. The Trussell Trust support more than 1,200 food bank centres in the UK to provide a minimum of three days’ nutritionally-balanced emergency food to people who have been referred in crisis, as well as support to help people resolve the crises they face. Between April 2018 and March 2019, food banks in their network, provided a record 1.6 million food supplies to people experiencing the current homelessness crisis, a 19% increase on the previous year!
As part of the project, we were set the task of organising a social action, this means we had to be pro-active in raising awareness for our social issue in our community. So far, we have created ‘care packages’ including some essential items that a homeless person living rough may require, including toilet paper, tinned goods, hygiene products such as feminine products and wipes and much more. Now, we’ve understood how something so simple, such as these necessities, can be much more valuable and long-lasting for homeless person. Not only that, but they can also help people in crisis maintain dignity and feel human again. These care packages are now going to Trafford’s Trussell Trust Food Bank, in appreciation of the work they do for our community.
As well as making these packages, to raise awareness about our social issue, homelessness, we decided to write a blog post that would feature on the school’s Humanities blog to, hopefully, educate our fellow students on why we believe homelessness is a crisis to be dealt with today, not tomorrow…
We hope this inspires you to be more pro-active in your community and educated you more about such a significant issue, that is happening right now. If you would like to join us in demolishing homelessness for good, then you can drop off your food parcel or a non-food items to the RS department. For more information on what they are specifically looking for, you can visit their website – https://www.trusselltrust.org/
Students at AGGS participated in the Stockport MUN competition last weekend. The team represented India and explored topics on the environment, disarmament and other general political issues. Our team were all relatively new delegates however all rose to the challenge and spoke clearly and confidently about many different issues. We had two of our more experienced MUN members chairing committees, one of whom chaired the Security Council, an amazing honor:-)
Sunday saw India take to the stage in the General Assembly with the delegation speaking and their resolution being passed. A number of students achieved awards, as our picture shows. Well done to all involved, Mr Humphry’s and Miss Mitchell are super proud of you 🙂
Year 10 GCSE Citizenship group were hosted by the Local Mayor Tom Ross last Friday at Trafford Town Hall. Students went on a tour of the building and learnt about the role of the local council and the local mayor. The morning culminated in a Q & A in the council chambers. Thank you to Trafford Town hall for bringing local politics to life for the students.
Eleanor H of Year 8 created a petition to get a crossing by St Margaret’s Church on the A56. Eleanor gained over 500 signatures and as a result the local council have listened to her present and then debated this issue on Wednesday 20th March 2019.
Eleanor has the backing of the local green party and is a young green member. The local Green Party launch for the May local elections saw the leader of the Green party, Jonathan Bartley, throw his support behind Eleanor’s campaign. She passionately spoke about it and he was very impressed with her campaigning skills, Eleanor is clearly a politician in the making, her achievements are amazing.
See Eleanor presenting her campaign at Trafford Town Hall on Wednesday 20th March – Minute 11:
On MUNday 4th March 2019, 6 months of hard work, planning and preparation came together in the AltyMUN 2019 conference hosted at our school. In the months upcoming to this fateful day, the Model UN team here at AGGS slaved away liaising with the participating schools; planning and filming a crisis video; writing up briefing papers for the debate and much more. It was possibly one of the most nerve-wracking days in my life, as I had the most major part in the whole organisation of the process as Secretary-General of the conference.
After school, all the chairs and delegates gathered together in the Main Hall as we waited in bated breath for all attending schools to arrive after making the final preparations. 4 schools attended (Altrincham Grammar School for Boys; Loreto Grammar School; Loreto College and St Ambrose College), each bringing 7-10 delegates. There were students from AGGS also selling snacks that were necessary for the delegates to bribe us chairs! After a short opening ceremony, the chairs took their delegates to their respective committees: Political, Disarmament and Security (DISEC), Economic and Social (EcoSoc); Environment and Human Rights.
Our committee was intense from the very beginning. We only got around 10 minutes into debate and I could have sworn there had been around 20 Points of Order, with delegates blatantly flouting parliamentary procedure, much to the disappointment of us chairs. However, we were pleased once fed with bribes of cookies from Venezuela! Venezuela also blessed the committee with comedic sound effects when needed. After forcing the delegate France to do a rendition of Dancing Queen by ABBA, we continued our debate on Western Intervention, passing a resolution with the acronym CHINESETAIPEI. In the end we awarded Commended Delegate to Venezuela; Highly Commended to USA and Outstanding to China. The standard of debate was incredibly high and the two of us are extremely pleased to say everyone in the committee spoke at least once!
Safa (Year 12)
Our committee began with the breaking of bread from France- literally, as he brought in a whole baguette and shared it between chairs and delegates respectively. We debated our first clause while simultaneously voting for who we thought were best for the joke awards- which later led to some discontent from dr Congo, who was unfortunately voted the ‘do nothing candidate’. After numerous points of order from Venezuela and the dream team of UK and Saudi Arabia powering through every single interruption, the session came to an end with USA winning the Outstanding Award; Venezuela winning Highly Commended and Australia winning Commended. It was highly enjoyable for all as by the end, all delegates got involved and had something to say.
Sanaa (Year 12)
We started the debate with an ice breaker (even though we were told not to) right from the start it was obvious that the debate was going to be comedic and full of personality. The ice breaker truly allowed for us to get to know each other and for us to get more comfortable with each other. Soon after, many bribes were handed to the chairs from almost every delegate. Then, the debating began, right from the start dozens of points of order were called and all speakers spoke with passion and character. After some more humorous comments from the USA in regards to climate change, we continued to the voting procedure, although our resolution did not pass, there were many amendments that were added. In the end, we awarded Commended delegate to USA; Highly Commended to Saudi Arabia and Outstanding to Dr Congo. Debating was that of an extremely high standard and every single delegate contributed to the debate!
Gowri (Year 9)
Economic and Social:
In the Ecosoc committee, we received clauses from several delegates, where we were debating ‘the issue of economic sanctions on vulnerable populations.’ One of which from China who almost every time he spoke, had to be asked to make their closing remarks. Many delegates spoke very well when taking the floor, responding and giving points of information – some of which from other delegates still had to be asked to come to their closing remarks! The delegate from France had brought in a cake with a familiar face on the front, as it was their birthday, and we were shocked to find he didn’t want to bribe the chairs with it. In the end we awarded Commended delegate to China, Highly Commended Delegate to Russia and Outstanding Delegate to Venezuela. The debate become quite heated between the delegates and even though not everyone spoke, everyone was very engaged!
Emily (Year 11)
Disarmament and Security:
DISEC committee was debating the weaponisation of big data (the analysis of statistics of the public) and saw such recommendations as requesting individual governments to use big data analytics to predict and prevent future terrorist attacks in their own countries from Russia and calling for China to withdraw it’s social credit system (a system already in place in areas in China which gives citizens a credit number according to big data analytics of all their public and private data) from UK. It was argued on many fronts that big data analytics, and the Social Credit System in particular, violate the basic human right to privacy. Others insisted that safety and order should come first. Despite all this fruitful debate, the only amendment actually passed was Venezuela’s command that all countries implement China’s Social Credit System as soon as possible because, like a post apocalyptic, teenage dystopian, it would be “cool”. By the end, the awards given in DISEC were: Commended to Venezuela and China; Highly Commended to France and Outstanding to UK.
Lucy (Year 10)
When committees ended, all delegates and chairs reconvened in the Main Hall to debate the crisis in General Assembly, which proved to be a chaotic affair as the projectors weren’t working for a good 10 minutes, which we regarded as the real crisis. However, Mr Copestake came to the rescue (we’d like to award him the joke award of delegate’s delegate) and we managed to get some debate going. We debated a range of clauses submitted from member states, including the acronym ONEPEOPLEONECHINA. We gave Australia Commended Delegation; Highly Commended Delegation to Venezuela and Outstanding Delegation to China, with each Chinese delegate receiving a special AltyMUN 2019 keyring.
As Secretary-General, I brought AltyMUN 2019 to a close with a closing speech, where I reflected on my first MUN conference 3 years ago and encouraged all delegates to have the confidence to speak out in MUN. I thanked all delegates for coming and the AGGS MUN team for making the conference happen. We thanked our advisors Miss Mitchell and Mr Humphrys for their invaluable help in the conference and gifted them with flowers. AltyMUN 2019 ended when I hit the gong and it fell over in an iconic moment that led to a standing ovation from the floor. Then, Bella and Beth in Year 13 spoke and I was delighted, surprised and incredibly emotional to be gifted flowers and a card from the MUN team for organising the conference. Everyone at AGGS worked incredibly hard to make the conference happen and I am happy to say that it was a huge success.
To get a better understanding of Parliament and politics in general, the Y10 Citizenship classes were lucky enough to video call a member of the House of Lords, Baroness Lister, about important political topics, such as Brexit and women in politics.
Before our discussion, we spent a few lessons researching about Baroness Lister and came up with a series of questions that we could ask her. For example, as she was a member of the Labour party, there were lots of questions about her stance on Brexit and her view on the resignation of Labour MPs who chose to join the Independent Group. It was a little intimidating at first, as I was worried that Baroness Lister would use a lot of political jargon and confuse all of us, but she was very friendly and happy to talk about issues that mattered to us, such as mental health. We also had a discussion about whether the voting age should be lowered to 16, and it was interesting to hear about what Parliament was doing about Citizenship in schools. Hearing about her political views and her experience as a Lord meant that we all learnt something new during our discussion. For example, something which I was surprised to learn was that members of the House of Lords are unable to vote!
This video call was set up by the Politics Project, which is a project that aims to get people involved in politics and improve their understanding of it. I think that this is a great idea, as I felt that by talking to people who were passionate and involved in politics (such as Baroness Lister), it made me more comfortable about talking to people in politics.
Overall, it was reassuring to know that a lot of issues that I believed in were also things that mattered to her. It was also really interesting to hear about Baroness Lister’s view on politics and how her view might be different from mine.
Last night saw AGGS host ALTYMUN 2019, this was the first time we have hosted a conference in 6 years. We had 5 schools with over 60 young people in total and our students were amazing. Safa in year 12 organised the whole conference with the help of lots of willing volunteers. The students were a credit to us all. The level of debate was fantastic and the feedback from other schools was really positive. Thank you to those who helped to make this day a success.
The Y11 and Y10 citizenship classes went on a trip to London to explore the Supreme Courts and visit the Houses of Parliament. The journey to London, in all honesty, was incredibly exciting but also tiring, we took a tram to Piccadilly and then a train to London, Houston. We took the London underground, but we didn’t anticipate the noise, so I think a couple of us were left partially deaf! It was an incredible experience but also rather frightening as the crowds in Altrincham could not hold a candle to the influx of people that we faced in London. But, the train did have a café and they had free chocolates with every purchase and that was the highlight of the journey!
We went into the Supreme Court and we sat on the chairs that the judges, barristers and solicitors would have sat on. We did not spend too much time at the workshop within the court but in the time that had, we learnt a considerable amount, but what was most surprising is the fact that Supreme Court was formally established in 2009, only 10 years ago.
When visiting the Houses of Parliament, we had an amazing tour guide who was evidently passionate about her job. We were lucky enough to see the Speaker’s Procession where the speaker of the House of Commons moves from Speaker’s House through the Library Corridor, the Lower Waiting Hall, Central and Members’ Lobbies to the Chamber. We were stood in the Central Lobby and waved at the speaker and he waved back at us, he seemed really friendly.
Our guide took us inside the House of Commons and we watched the politicians discuss the issue at hand, and then we left a couple of minutes before Theresa May was due to come into Parliament and join in the discussion. We then did a workshop where we were split into two groups and had to argue about making one issue a law. Our topic was the curriculum for life and whether it should be mandatory to teach at schools. In the end, the votes were in favour of including the curriculum for life in the school curriculum, however we did hear impassioned arguments from both sides and our “speaker” had to bring order to the court more than once. Overall, it was enjoyable, and we did have a lot of fun arguing over the law.
After this, we met Graham Brady, our local MP and he talked about his experience in Parliament and what his role was in the House of Commons. We were allowed to ask him questions at the end of his talk and there were many people who were interested about his opinion on Brexit and also how he was able to become a politician. It was very interesting to be able to speak to a politician and ask him about his opinions on current issues because it is not something that we’re able to do often.
Overall, the trip was incredibly exciting but also very educational as I think I was able to understand Parliament more clearly and it was easier to understand what went on inside the House of Commons once we actually visited. It helped me to understand the difference between the roles of the House of Commons and the House of Lords since I was physically able to see what was different about the two and our tour guide helped a lot.
Students were asked to create a campaign message in line with the aims of the ‘Dove self-esteem project’ to help to build body confidence in our school community: staff and students as well as parents and friends of our school. Here is a sample of the messages they created that they wanted to share with you.
Miss Mitchel, Head of Citizenship and Mrs Charlton, Teacher of Citizenship
We started the day with an opening ceremony where a teacher from MGS gave us an inspiring note to start the day and the Former Labour MP Nick Bent gave us a talk on the importance of Education and his work in Politics and how he had co-founded a non-profit organisation to help children from families who can’t afford much needed to tuition and give them a personal tutor.
We were then told where to go to find the room when our committees would be held. Once we had reached our committee room (I was in EnviroSoc) we sat behind a label of our designated country (for example, I was the delegate of Myanmar). We were then introduced to our chairs and were asked if we would like to read out our Policy Statements (for example, “Honourable delegates, esteemed chairs. The delegate of Myanmar is delighted to be here today and looks forward to debating (this was what I said) the issue of overpopulation and the issue of the problem with plastic. We hope to pass some effective resolutions and look forward to a fruitful debate. We then were given time to meet the other delegates and get as many as possible of them to sign our resolution (the first issue we debated the issue of the problem with plastic).
After we had all handed in our resolutions, the chairs picked the one they thought would be best to debate and we were all given a copy of the resolution. We then debated the resolution by asking questions and also at this time we submitted amendments. We then debated some amendments and then voted for the resolution as a whole (there was a break in the middle of this when you could go to the bathroom or the tuck shop). It was them lunch where went to the school canteen and ate as well as caught up with our friends in other committees. We later when back and debated the next resolution in a similar way. We were then show a video about the crisis and then went to a second break. We then debated possible solutions for the crisis (by submitting clauses) after we had finished we went the General ceremony.
We started by going through each committee and the clause that had been voted for in theirs. The different committees focused on different aspects of the crisis (for example, as I was EnviroSoc (which stands for Environment and Social committee) we focused on the social aspect (the crisis had little to do with the Environment) aka, how it affected people. We then, as our countries (we were sat on a table each with other delegates from other committees but we were all the same country (so should have all the same beliefs), voted on the clauses. Just like when we debated our resolutions a representative for the clause would debate for and then later another against, prior to voting. After this there was the award part of the ceremony.
During all the debates the chairs would mark down if the delegates had submitted amendments resolutions or just commented a lot if so the delegate could receive one of four awards, best young delegate, commended, highly Commended or Outstanding (which was the highest accolade). I received an award for commended which I was absolutely thrilled about. Another delegate for Myanmar received an Outstanding so our country had done very well. After all these awards the chairs announced how well the countries as a whole had done. Our country (Myanmar) overall came third which was a huge achievement. France, which was Manchester High School came second and Poland, which was Saint Ambrose, came first. Overall, I had an amazing day where I learnt lots and had lots of fun. Also special thanks to Mr Humphrys who was our supervisor for the day.