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30 June, 2004

Parliament welcomes tomorrow's leaders

Home Secretary, David Blunkett, and Schools Minister, Stephen Twigg will today [30 June] congratulate the young winners of the National Youth Parliament Competition at a reception in the House of Lords.

Organised by the Citizenship Foundation and sponsored by Norwich Union, the competition helps bring to life the process of politics and government by offering young people the opportunity to set up and video their own parliamentary session. Re-launched in summer 2003, the competition this year involved 170 schools and over 3,000 young people across theUK.

A panel of MPs including Children’s Minister, Margaret Hodge, awarded the top national prize to St Michael’s RC Specialist Science School from Cleveland. Pupil James Morgan was also awarded Best Backbencher. They will be joined by first-time participants, Joseph Leckie Community Technology College in Walsall, which was the runner-up team for this year. Prizes will also be given to winning individuals, including James Oliver from Gravesend rammar School who was named ‘Best Prime Minister’.

The winners in the first year of the National Political Journalism Competition will receive their awards at this event too. All the young people will later have tea at Downing Street.

Rt Hon David Blunkett MP, Home Secretary says: “Young people are vital to the health and strength of our democracy. It is important that young people are helped to appreciate the importance of engaging with the community both locally and nationally, because they have much to offer as active citizens. The Citizenship Foundation's National Youth Parliament Competition makes an important contribution to this goal.

"The interest shown by all the entrants, and the high quality of the winners' entries in particular, are clear indications that by engaging and developing young people today we are nurturing the leaders of tomorrow. I congratulate everyone who took part and wish the Competition success in the future."

Stephen Twigg MP, Minister for Schools, says:“These competitions make an invaluable contribution to active citizenship. The opportunity for young people to learn actively about our democratic process and the role of those in public life is an apprenticeship I hope will stay with them for a long time.”

Pupil Samantha Linton, Backbench MP in St Michael’s winning team, said, “I have thoroughly enjoyed the whole experience of entering the National Youth Parliament Competition. It has greatly increased my confidence, as well as improving my knowledge of the democratic system.”

Tony Breslin, Chief Executive of the Citizenship Foundation, said:“All the participants in the National Youth Parliament Competition have gained invaluable skills and understanding for long-term engagement in our democracy. St Michael’s have the added benefit of a very well-deserved success to celebrate.”

Simon Machell, Customer Service Director at Norwich Union, comments:“We are delighted to be working with the Citizenship Foundation on the National Youth Parliament Competition. The quality of entries has not only been impressive from the level of effort and understanding of the political process but has opened my eyes to how diverse and knowledgeable young people are on a wide variety of topics.”

Photographs will be availablefrom QBO Bell Pottinger after 15.30 on Wednesday 30 June. Please call020 7861 2491or e-mailcruddlesdin@qbo-bellpottinger.co.uk.

Further information

To find out more please email:

Notes for editors:

1. The Prizewinners’ Reception, held in the Cholmondeley Room of the House of Lords, will be hosted by Lord Phillips of Sudbury OBE, President of the Citizenship Foundation.

2. Prizes for the National Youth Parliament Competition will be presented by:

- Rt Hon David Blunkett MP, Home Secretary

- Mark Simmonds MP, Conservative Shadow Minister for Education

- Phil Willis MP, Liberal Democrat Shadow Education and Skills Secretary

Prizes for the National Political Journalism Competition will be presented by Andrew Marr, Political Editor, BBC

A keynote speech on “Citizenship and political literacy” will be given by Stephen Twigg MP, Minister for Schools

3. The National Youth Parliament Competition and the National Political Journalism Competition are open to teams of 11-18 year olds across theUK, whether as a school or youth group entry, or independently. The Youth Parliament Competition was set up in 1990 but re-launched with sponsorship from Norwich Union in June 2003, at an event hosted by Cherie Booth atDowning Street. The creation of the Political Journalism Competition was announced at the same event.

4. The Citizenship Foundation is an independent charity (no. 801360) which aims to empower individuals to engage in the wider community through education about the law, democracy and society. Founded in 1989, we focus particularly on developing young people’s citizenship skills, knowledge and understanding. Our work includes resources, training, active learning programmes, community projects and research. www.citizenshipfoundation.org.uk

5. Sponsorship of the competitions is part of Norwich Union’s responsible citizenship programme, which seeks to encourage individuals, business and Government not only to explore their rights but to take responsibility for their actions (www.aviva.com).

6. The National Youth Parliament Competition and the National Political Journalism Competition support the statutory Citizenship curriculum for 11-16 year olds inEngland.

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