Touring the Palace of Westminster

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Politics is something that affects us all but I wonder how many people, old and young, have a true understanding of how Parliament actually works. It turns out that a trip to the Palace of Westminster is a great way to gain an insight; what’s more, as British citizens we are all entitled to a free tour of the Houses (just contact your local MP). On Wednesday, I accompanied 6.1 Politics students and Alan, the Acting Head of Department, to Westminster.

As always the Bedalians impressed me with their mature behaviour, excellent questioning, humour, knowledge and creativity, the combination of which made me smile, laugh and even at times shed a happy tear or two!

We’ve just finished our tour of Parliament and have moved into the new education centre, opened just this autumn. I’m sat here in front of them, observing their participation in a parliamentary workshop, which they are fully engaged with. Sitting in two teams, red and blue, two primary colours that apparently have nothing to do with the parties. To my left are the reds and to my right the blues.

Starting with a guess the country game, to warm up, the teacher calls out some bizarre laws such as it being illegal to kiss someone with a moustache.

Moving on to the more serious stuff students were taken through the whole law making process via role play, with one student taking centre stage as speaker.

Parliament started with a vote on which bill to debate, each party submitting their own choice to the ballot: the blues choose EU exit whilst the reds choose (in response) to burn the nationalists! Needless to say, the EU exit bill got voted in, under closed eyes to add anonymity.

Had I kept my eyes shut, I might have been forgiven for thinking that the youngsters had been replaced by professional actors. The debate was excellent; well informed and serious despite its humour. George was leading the debate, it was a blue initiative, and he opened with an extremely strong and convincing argument about the freedoms and benefits associated with leaving the EU. The reds, however, were quick to come back with a counter argument based around immigration, asylum and equality for all.

Post debate, more questions were posed to the students, all designed to inform or rather (with these students) test their existing knowledge. After which, we left Westminster and headed back to Waterloo where students shared their thoughts, proving that it was a great and educational day.

‘As someone who has a passion for politics it was certainly a great, eye-opening day, which enabled me to gain a really good insight into the political world’ – George

‘It was good to see how the British government works, now when I see British politics on the news I will know what they are talking about’ – Malik, Putney exchange student.

By Scott Charlesworth, Teacher of Chemistry

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