Leaflets, leaders and unlikely alliances

Below are extracts from the winning essays in the Motorola Youth Parliament Competition organised by the Citizenship Foundation. The judges were Andrew Marr, the Independent's political columnist, and Judith Judd, Education Editor
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Category: Leaflet Design age 11-14. Winner: Kasia Brookes, aged 12, Graveney School, Wandsworth

Subject: Exclusion

Kasia's pamphlet suggests that violence, disrespect for property, continual bad behaviour and drug dealing are all reasons for exclusion. It goes on: "So would being expelled for these reasons really help?

"If a pupil is expressing violent behaviour, he or she has a problem which should not be dealt with by exclusion but with special help. Classes within the school where they will be taught to understand that what they are doing is wrong, would be a better idea.

"If a pupil is not producing a continuously high standard of work, is this a very good reason to be expelled? What are schools for, if not to sort out problems like this?

"The effect of drugs on children can be devastating, so special teachers should be trained to help them cope. The usual age for getting mixed up with drugs is the GCSE age (14-16), so being excluded at that time could totally ruin your education. Once again, exclusions will not help with this problem!

"Looking at all this will hopefully make you see that the whole idea of exclusion is a stupid one. Once you have been excluded, it is almost impossible to get a good education. This means that the pupil who has been excluded will probably not get a job when they are older. So why don't we just ban exclusion altogether?"

Category: Political writing age 11-14. Winner: Sarah Brearley, age 15, Harrogate Grammar School, Harrogate, Yorkshire

Subject: Imagine that you are the editor of a newspaper and write a leader on a political subject

"'Money is a singular thing. It ranks with love as man's greatest source of joy,' as Roger Fry once said, and perhaps this is why more and more utilities directors are breaking all previous limits and awarding themselves vast pay increases.

"Top executives all over the country have outraged the public over the past few months by putting up their salaries far beyond the rate of inflation - often while hundreds of lesser mortals are being made redundant in the same company. But is our outrage justified? Of course not, they all cry. Cedric Brown's chairman, Richard Giordano, said the large salary was entirely necessary to show that British Gas was at the top for recruitment and to 'symbolise the company's prestige'. Presumably that was why Mr Giordano felt it necessary to pay himself pounds 450,000 for his advice.

"Some of the excuses used to justify the super-salaries are less convincing than a schoolboy's reasons why he hasn't done his homework. Most are to do with privatisation. When the utilities were nationalised pay was set by ministers and tended to be lower than in the private sector. After privatisation, chief executives could more or less set their own salaries and began catching up - fast. In addition, they had share options which, in some cases, could triple their money. Not satisfied with that, some water company executives claimed a 100 per cent pay rise - their excuse being that they are now in a free market. They're not. They have no competition in almost all cases. They are governed only by the statutes that set them up."

Category: Political writing age 15 and up. Winner: Laurie Smith, age 17, Colne Community School, Brightlingsea, Essex

Subject: The Singapore Times 3 October 2006, No. 26,967

'East plans retreat as ceasefire fails' - Tetsuo Jiang in Cardiff

"Ceasefire agreements on the Welsh border appeared yesterday to be succumbing to death by a thousand violations, as the international community's efforts to contain the conflict in the former United Kingdom looked in danger of collapsing.

"A cloud of pessimism hung over the United Nations headquarters in the Welsh capital, Cardiff, as officials reported a steady increase in violations of the demilitarised zones established last October.

"The UN's deputy spokeswoman, Kay Zemin, said that 1,791 violations have been reported in the last week as both the Welsh and English moved men and armour into the zone.

"The conflict began four years ago last week when the refusal of the British parliament to comply with the United Federation of Europe's demands to uphold the decentralisation treaty, signed under Tony Blair in 1997, prompted Welsh and Scottish nationalists allied to rebel English Northern counties to demand independence.

"Led by Ceri Thomas, former leader of the Meibion Glyndwr terrorist group, and sponsored by the Irish President, Gerry Adams, the unlikely alliance broke away from both the United Kingdom and the UFE in early 2002; the English Prime Minister, Michael Portillo, responded with military force, provoking the four-year conflict."

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