Thirty three students from year 11 went on a visit to the Houses of Parliament for a tour and for a seminar on voting as part of their Philosophy Religion and Ethics (PRE) course which all students do. This year learning is focussed on Civic Values such as democracy, freedom and rule of law.
After arriving at Westminster and going through airport security to enter the Houses of Parliament, we were taken for a tour of all the main parts of the buildings, beginning with the magnificent and newly restored 1000 year old Westminster Hall, with its ancient hammer beam roof the place where many famous event in history have happened including the trial of Thomas More and Charles 1st, as well as speeches by Nelson Mandela and the a Pope, among others.
Next we went to both chambers. In the House of Lords, they were debating the needs of British citizens who are orphans in Syria and other children there as a result of the conflict and our responsibilities towards them. In the House of Commons they were looking at the detail of the Queens Speech. That morning there had been Prime Minister’s Questions so there was still a heightened atmosphere in the buildings.
After a tour of both houses we went for a seminar in the Education wing about voting and students formed into different parties who each produced a manifesto with three key points to deliver. They had access to the budget constraints which real governments have in creating these. There were some fantastic presentation including from Maddie for the ‘Good Future’ party. Eric Payne delivered a fantastic manifesto for his group, too. Flynn Smith was excellent at grilling the various speakers with challenging questions as they delivered their manifestos. Then we had a mock election in the different ‘constituencies’ and a coalition party was formed! It was a valuable insight into the compromises of politics today and a helpful support to our classroom learning about democracy.