Ffynone House senior students were treated to a trip to the Houses of Parliament this week. This follows the success of our Mock Election in May, the launch of our new Student Council and a renewed interest in debating at the school. Our students have developed a keen interest in Politics and have certainly found their voices to speak out as democratic citizens.
Walking in the footsteps of real politicians
The majority of Years 11, 12 and 13 took the opportunity to visit London. Morgan was “impressed with the history that seemed to seep from the walls” on their guided tour of the corridors, chambers and offices of the Houses of Parliament. He also made the interesting observation that “it seems like the politicians inhabit a different, archaic world so it’s difficult to see how they can be in touch with the views of ordinary people.”
The tour ended in the awe-inspiring Westminster Hall which is almost 1000 years old. What makes it such an astonishing building is not simply its great size and the magnificence of its roof, but its central role in British history. In and around the Hall, grew up the major institutions of the British state: Parliament, the law courts and various government offices. “I was fascinated by Westminster Hall,” said History student, Cerys, “It was so inspiring to stand in the place that has been central to our government since the 11th century. It makes the history seem so real and so relevant.”
Witnessing a high-profile debate in the commons
Our students were lucky enough to observe part of a debate in the House of Commons about exiting the EU. This was led by David Davis, Conservative MP and Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union. Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn, was also in attendance. Tahsin was “surprised at the level of tension in the chamber; we could feel the controversy surrounding the issue, not just hear it.” The trip was organised much earlier in the year so there was no way of knowing that such a key topic would be debated during the visit. Our teenagers were fortunate enough to be able to witness that evening’s political headlines unfolding live before their eyes.
After the tour, there was a workshop on the process of laws; how they were made and passed. Students were given an informative talk and then challenged to come up with a law of their own to debate. They proposed the law, ‘The drinking age should be lowered to 16’. They were then split into two groups and had a short time to prepare arguments for and against.
A formal debate was held, with one of our students playing the role of ‘The Speaker’. Lewis, who is part of our debating team, said that “it was a unique opportunity to debate in the Houses of Parliament. It made the skills we are learning in school and in competitions really come alive.” In the end, the majority voted against the law being passed.
Question Time with MP
To conclude the visit, the group had a ten minute question time session with Labour MP for Swansea West, Geraint Davies. Some of the older students had certainly done their homework and asked him some very challenging questions. They were interested in why he became an MP, his thoughts on Jeremey Corbyn, Brexit and the possibility of the Tidal Lagoon project going ahead in Swansea.
Students left the Houses of Parliament and were able to walk to Downing Street to see the famous black door of Number 10. Henry commented that, “all day, wherever you looked there were severe-looking security guards with large guns. It really drove home the level of terror threat to the UK and how sheltered we are from the reality of all that in Swansea.”
It is clear that the students learnt an awful lot on the trip and they have returned with a renewed enthusiasm for Politics. Our thanks to Miss Toye for organising this incredibly worthwhile event.