Experiencing a British Institution

Visit to Parliament – 22nd January 2020
With an early start on Wednesday 22nd January, some of our Year 6 pupils travelled to Westminster, London, to visit Parliament - The House of Lords and The House of Commons.

On entering the Parliament Education Centre, pupils were invited to take a tour through the Houses of Parliament to the House of Lords. There, we were met by some of the team of our own Banbury MP, Victoria Prentis. Children had the opportunity to find out about what a Member of Parliament does in their role, what the team of an MP does and what duties they fulfil within Parliament.

We then visited Westminster Palace with our tour guide. We learned that Henry VIII used the great hall as a banqueting hall and as a court. Another key historical event was that King Charles I was trialled in the great hall accused of committing treason for his part in the Civil War. He was later executed (beheaded) at Whitehall Banqueting Palace – just around the corner from Parliament. An extraordinary place steeped in history!

Victoria Prentis, our local MP, took the time from her busy day to come and meet us. She was promoting Keep Britain Tidy’s ‘Great British Spring Clean’. The aim of the project is to bring communities together by making a difference to the environment on their doorstep. There are many ways to join in, organising a community litter-pick to collecting rubbish while out and about in our local area. This was just one of the issues that were close to Victoria Prentis’s heart along with saving maternity services at the Horton Hospital. Our pupils asked some great questions about local issues such as enquiring about the ways in which we can, as a school, get involved with the litter-pick campaign.

The children then went on to learn about the three parts of parliament: the House of Commons, House of Lords and the Monarchy – (Queen Elizabeth II at present). Linked to their British Values learning in class and focus on the Rule of Law, children reflected that a law is made in Parliament and that laws tell us what we must and must not do and that they are necessary to keep us safe. Parliament make and change laws and the children learned that all three parts are needed to do this.

Back in the Education Centre, pupils participated in a Law and Debating workshop. First they had a chance to test their knowledge in a Parliamentary quiz. The group was then split into two and Rosa was chosen to stand as Lady Speaker of the House. Her role was to keep order during the debate and state the rules. A mock ‘House of Commons’ was created. It was decided by the pupils that they would debate whether children of 12 years and over should be eligible to vote in general elections. Both sides of the house debated this well, putting forward their views and listening to the opinion of others. A vote was cast and the bill was passed to the House of Lords for amendments. After scrutiny, it was decided that the age be raised to 15 years old and this bill was voted in by our pupils to become a law. The experience was a great way for our pupils to learn how bills are debated, ‘ping-ponged’ between the House of Commons and the House of Lords and then passed to become a law.

A great day was had by all experiencing this very famous British institution that ensures the democracy of our country; ensuring that everyone can have a say through elected MPs who represent our ideas and opinions in Parliament. 

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