PUPILS at Lyme's Woodroffe School stepped up to the ballot boxes this week to elect their local representatives on the UK Youth Parliament (UKYP).

The school became a polling station for the day yesterday as the students took their opportunity to get involved in democracy and decision making by voting for the young people they want to see representing Dorset on a national level.

More than 30 schools and 25,000 young people used their vote, deciding between the seven young people standing for election. As well as running their own campaign, the candidates produced video manifestos, which were shown around schools and youth centres before polling day.

Woodroffe students yesterday voted for the two candidates they wanted to become Members of Youth Parliament (MYP) and the voice of young people in the county.

Assistant headteacher Adam Shelley said: "It is important because they get the feel of how to vote and how they can make a difference.

"It puts the theory we do in citizenship lessons into practice in a very practical way and it prepares them for voting when they are adults.

"This is the initial look at the voting system and hopefully next year we will be able to put some candidates forward to represent Woodroffe and this region, which was under represented on this occasion."

Local councils loaned their polling booths and ballot boxes, and the vote counting will be led by Sue Bonham-Lovett, electoral services manager at Weymouth and Portland Borough Council.

Mr Shelley said: "We have been quite surprised to see they have really studied the ballot papers and are making informed decisions about the candidates they vote for that will make a real difference to them."

The election results will be announced at a special ceremony at County Hall next Wednesday, when the two candidates with the most votes will be elected as MYPs for Dorset this year.

The third and fourth place candidates will be made deputy members.

The election process has been carried out in the county with the help of Dorset Youth Service.

Harry Warren, a youth service worker in Lyme Regis, said: "I think it is a positive thing for the youth service to work with the school. I am particularly impressed with how seriously the young people have taken it."