On Tuesday 7th July, a group of Year 9 History students left Ilfracombe to travel to London for a visit to the Houses of Parliament. After a very early start, we arrived in London and took the underground to Green Park. The group walked across the park to Buckingham Place and then along Birdcage Walk to Westminster. Reporting to Portcullis House the students went through the security checks and were taken through the underground tunnel to the main Parliament building The Palace of Westminster. Students were given a guided tour of the Palace, which started in Westminster hall, the last remaining part of the original palace built in 1097 and went on to include a chance to see the House of Commons and the House of Lords in session and listen to the debates taking place. They were shown the grand Central Lobby where members of the public can wait to ‘lobby’ their MP.
The ‘Making Laws’ workshop which the students then took part in showed how parliament makes laws. Through the course of the session the students came up with ideas for bills to present to Parliament and simulated the process of passing one of these bills into law through active role play. The group participated in a debate where they had to understand and represent views with which they may not agree, and learnt about the role of the Commons, the Lords and the monarch in making a law. At the end of this the students met with our new Conservative MP for North Devon, Peter Heaton Jones for a question and answer session. The students were well prepared and asked challenging and topical questions on such areas as renewable energy, travel charges for Post 16 students and MP pay increases.
It was a wonderful, informative day and gave our students taking History at GCSE a valuable insight into ancient traditions and the current political system.