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Business as usual: Parliament trip goes ahead

Year 10 Citizenship students enjoyed a trip to London this term to visit to the heart of our democracy, the Houses of Parliament.  This was less than one week after the terrible and tragic events that unfolded in Westminster when a terrorist killed 5 people and injured many more.

As with the Houses of Parliament and the rest of London, it was business as usual for the group, who were accompanied by Humanities teachers Mrs Khan and Miss Khan and Campus Communication and Marketing Manager, David Jowle.

The day began with an early start as the coach left campus at 6am.  The students were impatient to head south to the capital, a journey most of them were making for the first time. Calls of "are we nearly there yet" were a regular feature of the journey and when the group eventually arrived the sun came out and remained for the rest of the day. 

On arriving in Westminster, the first stop was the Parliament Education Centre where we greeted by reassuring airport style security and a warm welcome by our tour guides. Entering the Houses of Parliament the tour took the group through the House of Lords, the House of Commons and Parliament Hall.  There was detailed explanation throughout courtesy of our knowledgable guides and an interactive feel, with regular opportunities to answer and ask questions.  The students learned about the workings of democracy in Parliament, the 1000 year history of the building and the events which have shaped it, from the great fire to two world wars.  It was an eye opening and fascinating insight, the only downside of which were the strict rules forbidding photography for us to document what was a really valuable lesson.

Returning to the education centre we were handed over to a teacher who delivered a workshop about voting.  The students were divided into groups representing five regional constituencies before a member of each constituency joined together to create a political party.  Each party had to come up with a name and a strapline which described their political ethos and the three core election promises from their manifesto.  The parties then presented their manifestos to the others before voting for their preferred party.  The candidate from the winning party in each region then went against one another as the other students voted in a prime minister to represent them.  It was an enjoyable and interesting exercise in democracy which helped build confidence and understanding of the voting system. 

At the end of the session we received a surprise visit by Judith Cummins, MP for Bradford South, who talked to the students about daily life as a politician, the issues being addressed in parliament that day and what inspired her to get into politics.  It was a great insight into a very different world for our students, who asked some really interesting questions, one of which went on to be posed in the Commons by Judith Cummings later that week.   

Next was a quick stop for lunch before walking past the floral tributes on Parliament Square to the victims of the terrorist attack, then over Westminster Bridge to pick up an open top bus tour.  Enjoying the sunshine on the top deck, the group saw many iconic landmarks including Covent Garden, Tower Bridge, The Tower of London, The Shard and much more.  Dropping us back at Westminster Bridge there was time for some souvenir shopping before meeting the coach for the journey back to Bradford, arriving at campus around 10:15pm.  The trip was well worth the journey.