Lesson 6: Democratic decisions

Introducing pupils to the idea of democracy and how democracy works in society

Before the lesson

Have ready

  • Small object to give out to each child e.g. lollipop stick, button, pencil

Learning objective

  • To begin to understand how democracy works

Statutory guidance

Pupils should know that:

  • Democracy is not included in the statutory guidance, however the DfE National Framework for Citizenship 2015 says schools should teach What democracy is and about the basic institutions that support it locally and nationally. Democracy is also one of the fundamental British values.

Success criteria

  • I understand how voting works
  • I can explain why voting is a fair way to decide something which affects a lot of people

Cross-curricular links

  • Nothing relevant for this lesson

Attention grabber

Give the children a few minutes to think about things they like to do in school as a class, for example having a story, play activities and extra time outside. 

Then ask them to share their ideas and write these up on the board. Only write them the first time they are suggested.


 Key questions

  • What activities do we like to do?

Main event

Explain that they will be doing one of these activities this afternoon. Before you begin, review the list and remove any which are not possible in the time you have and explain this to the children. You can also add your own idea which might be one that won’t be popular.

Explain that you have come up with some ideas of how the activity can be chosen: 

  • Putting all the ideas in a bag or box and picking them out. This is fair as all the ideas have an equal chance, but some of the ideas not many people might like.
  • Allowing one child to select the activity. This isn’t fair as they will probably select the one they thought of. 
  • You could choose. This isn’t fair as you may also select the activity you put in.
  • Tossing a coin to see which activities stay on the list. This is fair as all the ideas will be treated the same, but it would take a long time and we could be left with something many of the children are not keen on.

Ask the children if they can think of any other ways to decide – if they don’t come up with it suggest voting. 

Discuss how they are going to do the voting. Some ideas might include them writing their choice on a piece of paper or putting their hands up. Mention that voting is fair as everyone gets one vote.

Explain to the children that they are going to vote and you’re going to ask them all to put their hand up to vote for their favourite activity. To make sure it is fair everyone will have an object (e.g. lollipop stick, button, pencil) which they will give in once they have voted.  Read through the list again and then ask children to vote remembering to collect in their object when they put their hand up. Write up the number of votes for each thing and then declare a winner. In the case of a tie you can have a casting vote.

Give the children some time to do their chosen activity.


 Key questions

  • How can we decide on something fairly?


Pupils needing extra support: Might need additional support if an activity is not selected that they want to do.


Pupils working at greater depth: Should be challenged to explain in more detail about the fairness of each way of choosing.

Wrapping up

Following the activity re-cap how they selected it.  Ask the children what they think about voting, what was good about it? E.g. everyone got a say, most people got what they wanted and it was fair.

Now ask if they can see any problems e.g. some people had to do an activity they didn’t want to.

Explain that voting is part of democracy and it is very important. By everyone having a vote everyone does have a say but it does mean sometimes the result will not be what you wanted. It is important to respect the views of other people. There will be opportunities in the future for other votes and the result might be different then.


Key questions

  • What is democracy?

Assessing pupils' progress and understanding

Pupils with secure understanding indicated by: Understanding that voting is a fair way to make a decision which affects a lot of people.


Pupils working at greater depth indicated by: Understanding the positives and negatives of different ways of making choices.


  • Fair

  • Unfair

  • Choice

  • Vote

  • Democracy

Created by:
Sarah Huggins,  
Relationships & Sex Education specialist
Sarah has over 20 years’ experience in education. Starting as a Primary teacher, Sarah then moved into an advisory roleA particular job you do as part of a larger task that covered both PSHE education and Citizenship. She delivers courses…
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