English / History / Teaching & Learning

My visit to Parliament

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Perhaps I am in the minority, but I didn’t realise members of the public could freely visit the Houses of Parliament.

This morning, I accompanied a good friend of mine to the House of Commons as she embarked on the final chapter of filming for her long awaited character driven documentary about four Kenyan claimants who are petitioning the British Government for torture during the 1950’s and 1960’s. Whilst this post is not about that case (however, feel free to check out @LastBattleDoc on twitter!), this unexpected visit to the House of Commons has opened my eyes to the ease of access to a crucial aspect of British life.

As I reflect on my initial teacher training and prepare for my NQT year, I am keen to explore links the local community and develop effective, engaging and relevant learning experiences for children outside the school grounds. Through visiting the House of Commons today, I have become aware of an excellent establishment for children who are involved in areas such as class debates or school councils to see how parliament operates on a day to day level. While I appreciate much of this is appropriate to KS2 children and above. I believe the Houses of Parliament have a place across the curriculum, from the wealth of history within the grounds to the way in which politicians speak when in session.

Often, student teachers are expected to make links between classroom learning and the ‘real world’. During my final teaching practice, I often engaged in debates with the children and used this as a time to develop their higher order thinking skills. However, with the advantage of hindsight, I wonder if the effectiveness of this could have been improved if the children were aware of ‘real world’ scenarios where these higher order thinking skills could be applied. I am aware however, that not every child will aspire to become a politician, but I strongly believe that children need exposure to a diverse range of events and life experiences from a young age and should be exposed to these from a young age.

Although I feel extremely privileged to be working in a central London school from September, and have access to such glorious buildings on my doorstep. I believe schools across the country can begin by making use of their local MPs to gain access to the wealth of experiences a trip to the Houses of Parliament can offer. Even during my time sat in the visitors gallery today, there was a call for a debate on how the Houses of Parliament can better include children and schools from across the country.

I would love to know your thoughts about visiting parliament, or if you have visited, what were your thoughts? Did it benefit your children’s education?

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