Year 11 students visit the Houses of Parliament

Following the success of the ‘Meet your MP’ question time with Tom Blenkinsop and our Freebrough general election, we were offered the opportunity to take a group of students to the Houses of Parliament during October.

Freebrough Academy believes that it is vital that our students are ready to play an active role in the community and further society. As part of this, the Humanities Faculty have focused throughout 2015 on democracy.

At the start of the trip, excitement mounted as the train approached London. For many, it was their first time in the city. The crowds took some getting used to, as students struggled to capture the famous underground signs. Leaving the underground at Westminster, many were speechless. Holly commented “Wow, I have seen this so many times in films and on the news. It’s amazing”. After posing for group shots on Westminster Bridge, under the shadow of Big Ben, we walked around the outside of The Palace of Westminster to be greeted by our tour guide.

Our tour began in the ancient Westminster Hall. For 900 years, this has been at the centre of running our country. The main steps were marked with plaques commemorating speeches from that very spot from the Queen, Barack Obama and Nelson Mandela. We were very lucky to be able to observe debates in both Houses of Parliament. Viewing from the visitors’ gallery, the House of Commons looked smaller than it seems on television. We were able to listen to part of a debate on NATO, whilst identifying features of the chamber such as the dispatch boxes and the speaker. Over in the House of Lords, a debate on equality really held our attention, as members of the house spoke with emotion and humour.

The next part of the day involved a workshop on ‘Making Law’. The Freebrough students were separated into two political parties. Through debate and voting, they were taken through the steps of how a law is made. Our students impressed everyone with the depth of their thinking and their ability to identify unintended consequences of bills.

The visit was a great success. Our students left Parliament feeling that they were much more prepared to take part in democratic processes and were determined to encourage others to use their rights to get their views and concerns raised to people in power. At least one student is actively planning her route to her own seat in Parliament!