THESE Purton pupils may not be old enough to vote but that isn’t stopping them from taking a keen interest in the general election.

A group of 40 youngsters at Bradon Forest School volunteered to meet each party’s parliamentary candidate for North Wiltshire and quiz them about the biggest issues facing the UK.

Some of the pupils will represent each party in a canteen debate in front of more than 1,000 students before a mock election is held on Thursday, with a polling station in each tutor group.

Year 8 pupil Finley said: “I became interested in politics when Brexit started because I wanted to find out what it was all about and what the parties were going to do about it.

“Based on what I’ve heard so far, I would vote for the Liberal Democrats.”

Classmate Ben said: “Seeing policies on the internet is useful but asking them face to face is better because you can go into more detail and clarify anything you don’t understand.”

Labour’s John Fisher, Conservative James Gray, Liberal Democrat Brian Mathew and Green Party candidate Bonnie Jackson spoke to pupils.

Ms Jackson said: “This is a great idea, we need to get more young people interested in politics and it’s reassuring that the next generation of voters is this engaged. I’d be very interested to hear what the mock election’s result is. “

By a show of hands, most of the group thought the voting age should be lowered, they all agreed that politics matters and that it should be taught in secondary schools. And 21 of them wanted to be a politician when they were older.

Candidates were questioned on the gender pay gap, education, taxes, public services, immigration, the economy, mental health, environment, crime and Brexit.

Assistant headteacher Paul Dipple said: “The children have been brilliant, I’m so proud of them. All the candidates said they had visited sixth-form groups that were less impressive in terms of how well-prepared they were.

“The knowledge of young people should not be underestimated.

“I was a politics A-level teacher at my last job so I think it’s important that pupils are well-informed.

“If society is going to keep arguing that young people don’t care about politics, then education’s job is to help them get involved.

“We want to do something for the local elections next time and perhaps set up a politics club with trips to Westminster and things like that.

“You never know, a future North Wiltshire parliamentary candidate could come from Bradon Forest.”