Westminster Walks For Year 8 Scholars

The Year 8 Scholars have recently visited Westminster, not only for a guided tour of the Houses of Parliament and the chance to participate in a mock debate, but also an exploration of the areas surrounding Parliament with a particular focus on the many statues found there.

Starting in Parliament Square the students looked at a range of statues from Winston Churchill to Nelson Mandela with various Prime Ministers and other significant figures such as Millicent Garrett Fawcett in-between. They were asked to think about the design of the statues and the possible messages conveyed as well as the collection of statues as a whole; were there any surprising inclusions or exclusions? All these questions attempted to explore the idea of commemoration, and this was picked up later in the day in Victoria Tower Gardens. There the students looked at the statue of Emmeline Pankhurst and the memorial put up by Charles Buxton to remember ‘The Emancipation of Slaves 1834’  recognising the work of his father and others in that cause.

The excellent guided tour of Parliament including the chance to observe some live debate from the House of Commons gave plenty more opportunities to reflect on the idea of commemoration. Gladstone has pride of place in the Lobby whilst his great rival Disraeli is in Parliament Square. The students enjoyed standing in front of the red benches in the house of Lords and learning about everything connected with the State Opening of Parliament. Having passed through the part of the Palace of Westminster where King Charles 1 attempted the arrest of the 5 MPs the pupils returned to the education centre for their own debate.

A lively exchange of views about the value of exams followed and the session concluded with a visit from the MP in whose constituency our school falls, Sir Bob Neill, who talked about his role as an MP and gave many interesting insights into the workings of Parliament.