Flying in the face of democracy

Ilkley Gazette: Pupils Honor Jeffries, four, Freddie McCutcheon, four, Antonia Robson 11, Jemima Jagger, 11 and Joe Braithwaite, ten, give the new outdoor classroom a go Pupils Honor Jeffries, four, Freddie McCutcheon, four, Antonia Robson 11, Jemima Jagger, 11 and Joe Braithwaite, ten, give the new outdoor classroom a go

Feelings are running high ahead of the local authority and European elections, possibly even more so than usual. Social media in recent days has been crammed with political comment, and even those who rarely voice their opinion publicy on the subject of politics have been speaking out.

As is the norm before elections, campaign signs from all the parties contesting seats have been appearing on the premises or land of supporters, telling people who their local candidate is. Two reports have come to our attention this week, one of a sign reported stolen, and another of a sign being knocked down, presumably meaning it no longer serves its purpose of being visible to passers-by.

As the candidates affected have themselves pointed out, such actions fly in the face of democracy, by hampering candidates in their right to promote themselves. Not only this, but removing, defacing or damaging someone’s elses property is likely to be a criminal act. Most right-thinking members of the community would not normally dream of stealing, or damaging something belonging to another person.

These banners and signs may be political campaigning material, but they are the property of others, and are not being placed on public property. The best ways to express individual political opinion, rather than deny others their right to campaign, are to display your own choice of party or candidate material on your own land – bearing in mind the rules on this – or to simply vote in next week’s elections.

Outdoor classroom is lasting testimony

There can surely be no better way to commemorate the memory of a much-loved teacher than to create a new facility for educating children.

That’s what has happened at Westville House School in Ilkley, where a new outdoor classroom has been established in honour of former head teacher Charles Holloway, who sadly died aged just 53 last year. Children are exposed to so much technology these days that it is easy for them to become almost permanent inhabitants of indoor spaces, never far from a computer or internet connection. Technology is wonderful and can open up a great store of knowledge, but it can also go towards limiting a child’s natural inclination to experience things for his- or herself.

The outdoor classroom is a great way of balancing that, ensuring that young people are exposed to the wonders of the natural world – not only improving their knowledge but getting them some fresh air and activity.

The classroom was the brainchild of the current headteacher Mrs Rosey James, whose work in Namibia and Zimbabwe inspired her to encourage children here in Ilkley to experience more of the great outdoors.

We are sure that Mr Holloway, who had worked at Westville House School since the mid-1990s, would have approved, and the outdoor classroom is a lasting testimony to his work and the high regard in which he was held by the school and the greater community.

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