STUDENTS have taken their first steps into the world of democracy.
An election took place at Whitburn CofE Academy, in Whitburn, where students were voting in their head boy and girl.
With no fewer than 23 candidates putting forward their case, there was plenty for pupils in Year nine and 10 to consider before casting their votes.
But once the votes were counted, Shona Farish was named head girl for the next academic year, starting in September, with Elizabeth Atkinson her deputy.
Head boy will be Jason Laval, who will be supported by his deputy, Curtis Wake.
The pupils, all aged 15, were presented with gold and silver ties by South Shields MP David Miliband, who was at the academy as the winners were announced.
Alan Hardie, principal at the school, said: “Media attention often concentrates on schools in terms of exam results, but we must never lose sight of the importance of educating young people about their role in our society.
“The head girl and boy election day is a vital part of how we educate pupils about their responsibilities as active citizens in a democracy.
“I am very grateful that David Miliband was able to attend as our guest of honour and once again demonstrate his commitment to supporting the young people.”
Pupils took part in a pre-election to reduce the number of applicants down to eight, before the candidates presented their case to fellow pupils.
Mr Hardie added: “The voting process replicated the general election experience with pupils being issued with voting slips, filling in their slips in a polling booth and putting the completed slips into the ballot box.”
The election day was kicked-off by former Sunderland footballer Dick Malone. The defender, who was a member of the club’s 1973 FA Cup winning team, gave a motivational speech to the pupils.
Year nine pupils took part in a range of democracy-themed activities, while the day also included a careers fair for Year 10 pupils, who were given information about apprenticeships, employment and further education opportunities.