We were very lucky to be able to book a visit to Parliament which the School Council visited on Monday 30th September. All School Council representatives from Years 3 to 6, including the deputies, were selected for the visit. We were very fortunate that the sun was shining and it didn’t rain.
On exiting Westminster station, the sight of the building across the road filled the pupils with excitement. The guided tour took the pupils around the main parts of the building in 2 groups, starting at the staircase which the Queen climbs when opening Parliament. This took us to the robing room, elaborately decorated with paintings of Henry VIII and his 6 Queens amongst other monarchs. We were surrounded by amazing portraits and paintings of, for example, the Spanish Armada; the children’s eyes on stalks. Within the room was a tiny throne, demonstrating exactly how petite Queen Victoria had been.
Unfortunately, not all of the pupils got to see both the House of Commons and the House of Lords, each group only seeing one or the other. This was due to them having sessions in each not long after. However, we watched the police sniffer dogs enter and carry out their searches. The group that entered the House of Lords gasped as they saw the throne the Queen sits on for the state opening of Parliament.
The group that went into the House of Commons firstly observed the battered grills where Black Rod had hammered during the state openings. The House of Commons itself drew gasps again as they all thought carefully about where different MPs would sit, tempted to sit in the forbidden seat of the Prime Minister.
In the central lobby, many stories were told of the life of Parliament, with the camera crew setting up and us in front of the famous Parliament Post office. There were many people milling around, but the children were very disappointed none of them were the Prime Minister.
Our workshop session, the People’s Parliament, followed the completion of the guided tour. The children listened to a story about the Rabbits and Meerkats, instantly making comparisons to Brexit! This was followed up by some activities and finishing with a video that completely surrounded us on all 4 walls. None of us knew exactly where to look. This video told the story of the Suffragettes. We were lucky enough to see Emmeline Pankhurst’s statue as we left.
It was a fabulous visit and exceptional learning experience for all.