MOCK elections are giving Ripon Grammar School students and staff a taste of the real thing as the country prepares for the general election.

One of the RGS election organisers, sixth former Sebastian Lyons, urged all fellow pupils and staff to participate: “Ripon Grammar School has the chance to decide on which party promises the promote the UK’s interest in the best possible way.

“As students and teachers alike, this is a chance for us to participate in politics, a topic which has large consequences for us as individuals As an electorate, voting enables us to create change, through discussion of who we support, and through giving a vote to the party we support.”

Students will be standing for the Green, Brexit, Conservative, Labour and Liberal Democrat parties, which do not necessarily reflect their own political views.

Party manifestoes have been issued and each party will take part in hustings and assembly presentations, followed by question and answer sessions, as well as in a five-party debate.

Deputy head Kevin Auger explained how students had carried out thorough research into the parties they are representing: “This is a real opportunity for everyone to consider the current political debate in the UK and an opportunity to find out more, before casting their mock votes.”

Voting will take place on Wednesday, December 11 and the result will be announced at 9am on Thursday, December 12, with a speech by the winning party at lunchtime.

Sebastian added: “This is not just a vote on the UK domestically, but whether we should be a part of the European Union. Although Brexit remains the dominant topic, there has been an increased focus on our social agenda – the NHS, education and tax reform.”

Research by the Hansard Society, the UK’s leading source of independent research and advice on parliamentary affairs, shows that young people are less likely to engage with politics than their older counterparts.

Director Dr Ruth Fox says: “Research has shown that one way young people become more likely to engage in political activity, including voting, is by participating in citizen-ship related activities at school, such as school councils, debating teams and mock elections.

“By participating in a mock election, students gain valuable and fun hands-on experience of the workings of an election, from running a campaign to organising voter registration and polling on the day.”

She added that several of this year’s general election candidates, as well as former MPs and other prominent political figures, participated in mock elections when they were at school.