A momentous day in Parliament
On an important day in parliament when MPs were voting on the future of Brexit, a group of 31 students from Nova Hreod Academy visited the public gallery at the House of Commons. The lucky year 9s were given a tour of the Palace of Westminster, which contains over 700 rooms and is the home of UK Parliament.
On arrival in London, students were amused by some of the colourful protestors on College Green and had a quick stroll along the South Bank before entering the palace. The first stop was the House of Lords, where we were invited to take a seat in the lavish surroundings and learn about the role of the Lords. This was followed by the central lobby which is decorated with statues of kings and queens of England and Scotland. Our guide explained that the lobby has been the scene of many protests over the years and is the location of the grilles which originally covered the ladies gallery in the House of Commons, when women weren’t allowed to share the same viewing area as men. They had to be removed after a group of Suffragettes chained themselves to the grilles in 1908, and were subsequently moved to the Central Lobby in 1917 as a reminder of women’s suffrage.
During a stop in St. Stephen’s Hall with its statues of former prime ministers, the students recalled some of their Year 7 history lessons about Oliver Cromwell and the Magna Carta. The next stop involved a trek up one of the palace’s 100 staircases into the viewing gallery of the House of Commons. We were fortunate to be able to see Parliament in session, with the Speaker of the House of Commons asserting his control over the ‘honourable members’ as MPs proposed new bills for consideration.
Mrs Telling, careers advisor from Nova Hreod Academy, said:
"It was exciting to be able to see parliament in session and watch the Speaker in action. It was quite something for the students to be able to see what it's really like, they kept us entertained with their background knowledge from their history lessons and I hope that the visit has piqued their interest."
After the tour, the students took part in a workshop and were visited by Justin Tomlinson, MP for North Swindon, when they had a unique opportunity to ask him questions about a number of political issues that affect young people, including tuition fees and public transport.
Year 9 Student Darcy said:
“I had a great day. It was a fantastic experience to be able to see the Houses of Parliament; the building itself was amazing and so much bigger than I had expected.”