POLITICS mad youngsters from a York secondary school got the chance to hold a debate at Westminster.

Sixteen pupils from Year 10 and Year 11 at Oaklands School took part in a mock parliamentary debate at the House of Lords.

Oaklands was one of only four schools in the country to have a successful application to take part in the debate, on the motion "This House believes that, since pupils are eligible to leave school and commence full-time employment at 16, the voting age at elections should be reduced to 16."

The group was given a brief introduction to debating techniques before Adam Shipley, a Year 11 pupil at Oaklands, spoke in favour of the motion. Later Rachel Burton, also Year 11, was one of those speaking against.

The debate took place in the House of Lords chamber and was broadcast live on the internet.

Pupils from Oaklands prepared for the visit for a number of weeks, with arguments being prepared and speeches written and rehearsed.

Shabana Jabbar, head of citizenship and RE, said: "This is a wonderful opportunity for the pupils to gain valuable insight into how the parliamentary process of our country works.

"We encourage pupils through our lessons to become politically aware and this will be an experience that will stay with them for years. It is tremendously exciting for them and me."

Updated: 10:57 Friday, March 25, 2005