Boys in debate during visit to the Mother of Parliaments

Year 12 Politics students saw at first hand the scene of Britain's greatest political debates – and then had the chance to engage in one themselves.

A tour of both the lower and upper houses, together with the lively debate with pupils from other schools, were the highlights of the trip to the Palace of Westminster.

“The aim of the trip was for our students to discover at first hand our Parliament works,” said teacher Helen MacGregor, who organised the trip. The Palace of Westminster organises various tours and workshops specifically tied to particular key stages of the National Curriculum.

The tour started in the Members’ Lobby, where the boys saw the 650 MP pigeon holes and identified the slot for the Barnet MP, the Right Hon Theresa Villiers. “We then went into the House of Commons and stood next to the famous green seats. We were very tempted to sit on them, but we weren’t allowed!” added Miss MacGregor.

“The boys were surprised how small the Commons was in reality. We saw the dispatch boxes and the Speaker’s chair and enjoyed imagining the history that had taken place in that room. We then went through the lobby, where the television broadcasts are made from, into the House of Lords. The glowing red seats stood out against the shining gold of the monarch’s throne. We saw the cross-benches and the woolsacks in the middle of the House.”

""After the tour, the 26 boys from QE participated in a lesson with 50 pupils from other schools on how politicians make decisions and the difficulties they have to deal with, culminating in a vote. They were given a scenario where, as a constituency MP, they had to vote on a motion that prisoners should be given jobs. They were given relevant data, such as unemployment statistics and information from employers, and then asked to vote on whether to allow the proposed bill to pass. With each vote, the boys had to justify their decision, which led to a debate.

“A number of our boys presented their points very convincingly, and the debate was very lively and interesting,” said Miss MacGregor. “Most of our boys were against the motion, but we did have some spirited defence of it, too.”