SCHOOL was out and council was in last week as Herne Junior pupils took over.

The first sitting of Petersfield’s Student Full Council took place last Friday with a dozen pupils swapping the classroom for the chamber.

Mayor JC Crissey held the one-off event to give youngsters an insight into how local government works and why it’s so important.

Pupils were given a lowdown on the democratic process, wards, officers, and jobs carried out by the town, district and county councils.

Theory was put into practice after a break with Cllr De Giovanni being elected mayor and taking his place at the head of the council table.

The student council then made its way through a prepared agenda with the setting of the precept being the most important item of business.

Councillors were keen on splashing the cash on charity, green spaces and play equipment instead of items like the Festival Hall refurbishment, security and new equipment for PTC grounds staff.

But they quickly realised the balancing act that councils face when budgeting and reviewed their spending after adding an extra £350 a year to average council tax bill.

There were plenty of good ideas around the table with a suggestion by Cllr Torrance for play equipment for older children at the Heath being noted.

Student mayor Cllr De Giovanni said he enjoyed the experience but wanted to know how much a mayor gets paid. Spoiler alert: not much.

He said: “I would consider becoming a councillor and it could be a new job. Banging the gavel is fun, too.”

New Herne Junior headteacher, Susan Sayers, called the event “wonderful” with the inaugural student council comprising of four HJS ambassadors and four pupils.

Cllr Cressey devised the event as part of his mayoral year but hopes are high it could become an annual activity.