Mrs Saunders (Deputy Head), Miss Gardener (Class Teacher), Mrs Bekir (Teaching Assistant) and Mr McGrorty (parent helper) accompanied Yr.6 to the Houses of Parliament, travelling by train from Brockley station. When they arrived they were split into two groups and each taken on a tour so they could learn about Parliament’s history, and they were shown both the House of Commons and the House of Lords. The guides were full of fascinating facts and historical tales. After the tour pupils took part in a workshop which explained how elections and voting happen in the UK:
The room and those in it were divided into five constituencies
- Each one was given a manifesto of promises to choose from as well as the cost to implement the manifesto.
- Each constituency had to then choose a name and present their manifesto of promises, how much it would cost to implement and then to persuade everyone to vote for them.
- Surprisingly, three parties had an equal share of the votes and formed a coalition!
What did the children learn? Here are some of the things they said afterwards:
- “The Queen sits in an uncomfortable chair.”
- “The House of Lords and House of Commons are really small, even though they look big on television.”
- “There are now 650 constituencies.”
- “Constituency means the area where you live.”
- “The Queen may only enter the House of Lords when she is invited by Black Rod.”
- “You have to be elected to sit in the Chamber.”
- “The political parties make a manifesto (a promise or vision statement) and then persuade people to vote for them.”
- “The Speaker was not allowed to leave the House of Commons in the 18th Century, so while the Speaker drew the curtains and sat on a chamber pot the Members of Parliament had to make lots of noise so that nobody heard him! Fortunately today he or she has a stand-in and is allowed to leave the House.”
- “The public can visit both chambers and it is free.”
An interesting and fun day was had by all, with the added bonus that it was educational.