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Teacher FAQs

Here are answers to frequently asked questions from teachers. If it doesn’t help, and you’ve still got questions, then please email us on admin@bigvote.org.uk or call us on 01225 869413 or visit the Staffroom, during office hours, for instant online support.

I’m having problems registering, what do I do?

Registration should be pretty straightforward. Here are some stage-by-stage instructions to help:

  1. You need to REGISTER on your first visit to the site. You only need your ACCESS CODE to do this. You pick your own username and password.
  2. Enter your access code in the ‘access code’ box and click ‘register’
  3. You will get a new page up – the registration form – fill in the details. Choose your own username and password. I know that the form asks you what year you are in at school, but this is just a hangover from the student registration form. Don’t worry, as long as you use the correct access code (it should begin with the letter P), the site will know you are a teacher.
  4. Click next and you’re all registered!
  5. To get into the site you now have to log in (use the username and password you just picked). Obviously that is super-annoying, who wants to log in twice? You should see the face I pulled when I discovered that was how it works… Unfortunately, for technical reasons, it’s unavoidable, sorry! However, you only need to register the first time.

On your next visit you just log in using the username and password you chose for yourself.

If you’re still having problems, email admin@bigvote.org.uk, call us on 01225 869413.

How can I book a live chat?

If you’d like to book a live chat please email admin@bigvote.org.uk the following information:

  • Date:
  • Time:
  • School:
  • Class Year:
  • Council:
  • Teacher’s name:
  • Teacher’s username:

These chats take up a lot of the councillors’ time, which they are very kindly volunteering, and can be so hectic they wear them out! We ask you to try and be considerate and limit your live chats to a maximum duration of 45 minutes.

Please note, it will be rare to get a full house of all the councillors as of course they have work and council commitments. Please make sure students realise this.

How much time should I spend on the event?

By our reckoning, you could spend 10 hours of lesson time on it (or more) if you wanted to, but most of you probably won’t!

The KEY thing is giving the students the chance to interact with the councillors, so definitely try to have at least two sessions online – a session for submitting questions and a live chat. We find these are far more productive if the students have read a bit about the councillors first, which is why we recommend lessons like ‘Meet the Councillors’.

It’s also useful to have at least a short follow up in a later lesson, if students have submitted questions, to see the answers and how the voting is progressing.

But remember, if time is short you can set visiting the site as homework. In last year’s event, 50% of students who answered our survey logged on to the site from home, in their own time, to see how it’s going.

If you want to spend a lot longer there are 6 hours of lesson plans, plus info sheets. And you can have more than one live chat. This can work well as a follow-up. But students may need a bit of direction re. investigating or discussing issues raised in the first chat.

Our experience is that although students and councillors enjoy the live chat, the chat can run out of steam if you spend two hour long lessons doing it. They just run out of things to say! We’d probably suggest having two 30 min chats if you want to have a follow up.

When should I hand out the access code cards to my students?

Probably in the week commencing 20th September as this gives you a chance to introduce the event before it starts. Students use the access code on the card and then choose their own username and password. You will need to remind your students not to lose these! They will need the username and password to get on the site each time.

Please do encourage them to leave an email address at registration. We won’t spam them and will only use it for this event. But it does make life a lot easier if they forget their password. It also means they get an email telling them about each eviction, which helps to make it seem exciting!

What if a student has forgotten their username and/or password?

We do send an email address when they register telling them their username and password. If they have forgotten what they picked, the first thing they should do is check this, if they can.

If this doesn’t help (e.g. they have deleted it), they can click the forgotten password link by the log in area, this will send an email to the address they gave when registering.

If this doesn’t help (e.g. they have given us the wrong email address or not given one) then you can email admin@bigvote.org.uk from the email address YOU registered with. Tell us the student’s name and username and we will send you a new password. For security reasons we will not send a new password for a student to any email address other than the student’s one or the one we have registered for the teacher.

What sort of questions should students be asking? And can you explain the question categories?

We aren’t prescriptive. It’s good that students feel emboldened to ask the questions they really want to! We’ll take out gratuitously rude ones…

But the idea is that they learn about how local democracy works, and have their say about their local area by talking to real councillors. They should also get to know the councillors, and hopefully see them as normal people they can relate to, are entitled to ask for help from, and perhaps could even see themselves becoming one day. To give some examples:-

About you and being a Councillor

  • Is it hard work being a councillor?
  • What made you decide to become a councillor?
  • What was your favourite subject at school?
  • What are your hobbies?

Crime and Anti-social behaviour

  • What can be done to cut down anti-social behaviour in our area?
  • What does the council do to tackle drug and alcohol addiction?
  • Why do teenagers get hassled by the police just for wearing hoodies?

Education

  • Are there going to be cuts to the school budgets?
  • Why do we have to wear uniform?
  • What can the council do about bullying in schools?

General questions

  • What do you think about Trident?
  • Do you believe in Global Warming?
  • What’s the difference between AV and First Past the Post as electoral systems?

Local Facilities

  • Can we have a skate park?
  • Why is the leisure centre closing?

Transport and the Environment

  • Why do we have to have recycling bins?
  • Why aren’t there more recycling bins in public places?
  • Why is the bus into town so expensive?

Youth issues

  • Do you think 16 year olds should have the vote?
  • Do you think young people are unfairly portrayed in the press
  • Does the council do enough to engage with young people?

Your FAQ hasn’t answered my question!

Sorry! Please email admin@bigvote.org.uk or call us on 01225 869413 and we’ll try to help. We’ll also add questions you ask to this FAQ, to help other teachers.